36th Parliament, 1st Session

L093 - Mon 24 Jun 1996 / Lun 24 Jun 1996














































The House met at 1333.




Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I am pleased to rise today and ask the members of the Legislature to join me in congratulating past and present staff and students on the 100th anniversary of Leamington District Secondary School. The high school in Leamington was founded in 1896 and until 1949 was known as Leamington High School. From 1949 to 1962 it was named Leamington District High School, and from 1962 until the present 100th year it has been known as Leamington District Secondary School.

Of special note in this centenary year is the fact that James N. Hume served Leamington and district as a teacher from 1933 to 1970. From 1942 to 1970 Mr Hume, or Jimmy as he was affectionately known by his students, served as an outstanding principal. He will be remembered for his discipline and fairness by all of those who learned from him.

Colleagues, please join me in wishing Leamington District Secondary School success as it embarks on its second century of excellence in education.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Last week in Sudbury over 180 mayors were invited from across northern Ontario to come together to organize and deliver a message to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Premier of this province, the only member from northern Ontario in that government, that the Ontario northern support grant is important to small communities. That is one of the issues they talked about.

Members of the assembly know that particular grant is especially important to small communities like Matheson and other communities across northern Ontario that don't have the municipal assessment base in the industrial sector to offset the amount of money they need to provide basic services to their communities. Those communities don't have things like the Metro zoo, those communities don't have huge transit systems to run; in many cases they have no transit. We're talking about basic services such as garbage pickup, water delivery, cleaning and keeping snow off the streets in the winters that we have in northern Ontario, and northern communities are really upset and worried that this government is talking about getting rid of the northern support grant.

I urge the government to listen to the mayors of northern Ontario. They know what they're talking about on this one. They're the ones who have to balance the budgets of their municipalities at the end of each fiscal year. If this government takes away that grant, it means that communities like Hearst, Matheson, Iroquois Falls and others will be severely hurt and unable to provide essential services to the people they represent. I say to the government it's about high time they listened.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): Today we mark the beginning of the 500th year since the formal discovery of Canada by John Cabot in 1497.

If he could be present with us in this Legislature today, he would barely recognize who we were talking about, simply because he was an Italian and his name was Giovanni Caboto. It was his visionary drive that led this enterprising explorer to the shores of what is today Newfoundland and eastern Canada under the banner of the person who shared his enthusiasm, the King of England.

Having claimed this dominion for the crown, Giovanni laid the foundation for Canada's future development as a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy which would unite our bilingual, multicultural and regional traditions.

I think it very refreshing to consider, especially during the current debate on national unity, that Canada was discovered by neither the English nor the French, but by an Italian whose ancestry is the foundation for both English and French culture, and therefore Canada's.

It is in recognition of Giovanni Caboto that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the successor of his original employer, will visit Canada next year to celebrate this great anniversary of Canadian achievement and unity. As Giovanni Caboto would have said, viva la Regina.


M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa-Est) : Aujourd'hui en Ontario, comme partout au Canada, les francophones fêtent des siècles de détermination tranquille à survivre et à prospérer, et je veux leur souhaiter la plus heureuse des Saint-Jean-Baptiste. À Hearst, à Windsor, dans Prescott-Russell, à Ottawa, à Toronto et à bien d'autres endroits dans la province ils se rassemblent et ils se disent qu'ils sont fiers de ce qu'ils sont ; ils se disent qu'ils se souviennent.

Ce qui me rend encore plus fier, c'est de voir que de plus en plus des Canadiens non francophones se sentent proches de notre culture qui se laissent avec une grande joie emporter par la fièvre qui est dans le coeur de tout les Canadien d'expression française.

Ce n'est pas tellement le temps aujourd'hui de penser à ce qui divise le Canada et aux attaques constantes de ce gouvernement contre les quelques acquis de la communauté franco-ontarienne. Demain, nous continuerons d'apporter une contribution positive à la vie de ce pays. Demain, nous continuerons nos efforts en vue de donner une place au soleil dans cette province à chaque Franco-Ontarien et à chaque Franco-Ontarienne.

Aujourd'hui, il faut célébrer ce que nous sommes et ce que nous avons apporté à cette province et à ce pays. Il faut célébrer nos acquis et notre culture.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): We have come to the end of your government's first year in office and are now coming to the end of the first session of Parliament and the end of Ontario's economic viability. Your tax break is supposed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, we're told. Despite the rhetoric, most people are going to be worse off, and this is particularly true in northern Ontario.

In the riding of Cochrane North: In Kapuskasing municipal taxes will be increasing by 2.6%, in Hearst taxes will be increased by 2.5%, in Mattice-Val Côté taxes will go up by 2.5%; in Cochrane user fees will be increased by 16%, and in Kapuskasing they're considering user fees for garbage disposal; 42 Ministry of Natural Resources jobs were lost, in Kapuskasing 11, Hearst 8, and in Cochrane 22.

For a quarter of a century, the people of northern Ontario had safe and efficient air service with norOntair. On March 29 norOntair ceased to fly and its services were turned over to the private sector. After only three months, one private carrier has ceased air service to three communities because the routes aren't economical. This does not bode well for the future of reliable air services for the north.

We've done well under your government in the north since you took office as the Tories. We will do even better under an NDP government in the future with our new leader, Howard Hampton, who truly understands the needs of northerners.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I recently had the opportunity to address a co-op appreciation luncheon in the town of Walkerton. The purpose of the luncheon was to recognize the students, teachers and employers whose efforts ensured the success of this year's co-op program.

In fact, 300 students from Sacred Heart High School and Walkerton District Secondary School were successfully matched with local employers. Placements were in fields ranging from agriculture to retail sales to automotive repair, which allowed the students to further their career goals doing jobs they are interested in.

Students who enjoy helping others had the opportunity to be teachers' aides at an elementary school or to work with senior citizens, those who are more inclined to work with their hands assisted electricians and mechanics, and for those who have a way with words, the local paper provided an opportunity to practise their writing skills. Even our future nuclear physicists had a chance to test their knowledge at the Bruce nuclear power development site.

The success of programs such as the one in Walkerton is among the many reasons this government is expanding co-op and work experience programs to give students more insight into possible career choices. By developing clear course requirements, expanding co-op and work experience programs, and introducing a formal transition-to-work training program in partnership with local employers, we will continue skills development and provide the additional experience that Ontario's students need to be competitive in today's dynamic workforce.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): As we near the end of the spring session, I want to direct my remarks today to the Minister of Northern Development and what appear to be further delays in getting the northern Ontario heritage fund up and running.

As we all know, since this government took office one year ago, the fund has been in limbo -- for a full year. Only after continual prodding by the Liberal opposition did the minister return money owing to the fund and set up a functioning board to distribute the funds. Yet another two months have passed since the government announced they would finally do something about the fund, but very little has changed.

Information provided to us confirms that the new board, which will be meeting later this week, is no further ahead in determining how the fund will work. Decisions related to infrastructure, and simply how "infrastructure" is to be defined, have yet to be settled.

In addition, as a member of the standing committee on government agencies, I had the opportunity recently to interview two of the new board members. Both the nominees had very little sense of what direction the fund was going in, and in fact seemed quite prepared simply to accept the minister's direction in that regard.

The heritage fund is for northerners, and the decisions on how the fund should be distributed must be made by northerners, not by the minister and his officials in Toronto. I call on the minister today to allow his new appointees to be a real part of the consultation process that is so desperately needed to make this fund relevant to northerners.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Speaker, I could hardly wait to get here today to share with you and with the people of Ontario my great excitement, having attended the convention of the New Democratic Party in Hamilton this past weekend.

It was magnificent: over 2,000 people, men and women, citizens of Ontario, workers, students, small business people, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, children, steelworkers, paperworkers, energy workers, members of CUPE, OPSEU, CAW and the OFL, people of all shapes and sizes, all colours and cultural backgrounds, all faiths, people of different sexual orientation -- a true reflection of Ontario as we know it today. It was a quilt of great beauty and strength as we gathered with common purpose to speak of and forge paths to justice and fairness in Ontario, to form a common bond against the terribly destructive agenda of the Mike Harris government, to let people know that there is an alternative.

I want to tell you how proud I was of the performance of all the leadership candidates and to congratulate here today our new leader, Howard Hampton.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I'm pleased to rise in the House today to remind the members and all Ontarians that the city of Hamilton will be playing host to the 1996 Grey Cup game, emblematic of Canadian football supremacy. The championship game will be played Sunday, November 24 at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Anyone who attended the 1972 classic in Hamilton most certainly has fond memories of not only the thrilling last-second victory of our beloved Tiger Cats but also of the unparalleled hospitality of the people of Hamilton during the week-long festivities.

Over 30,000 of the 40,000 seats available have already been purchased and the remainder are expected to go quickly. Tickets can be obtained by calling 1-800-GREY-CUP.

With an all-Canadian CFL back in force and with an outstanding array of talent assembled in the eastern and western conferences, we're certain to have another epic battle as these teams compete to see who will walk away with Lord Grey's coveted silver bowl.

So I advise all members, Ontarians and Canadians to get ready to manufacture some memories, to get ready for fun and frolic; five straight days of Grey Cup magic in downtown Hamilton and in my riding high atop Hamilton Mountain. Get ready to experience a side of Hamilton that just might surprise you. Sure, we're still the steel capital of Canada and proud of it, but the new steel town is more than just furnaces and hardhats. Hamilton is home to some of the world's prettiest sights and some of the most advanced R&D in the fields of health and environmental science.

But most of all, we still know how to put on a party in a town that takes its football seriously. So be there. Get your kicks at Grey Cup 1996 in Hamilton during our sesquicentennial year. Oskee wee wee, Mr Speaker.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I beg to inform the House that on Thursday, June 20, 1996, the 21st annual report of the Commission on Election Finances for the year 1995 was tabled.



Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I want to take this opportunity to make a brief report to the House about the meeting of first ministers that took place in Ottawa last Thursday and Friday. I might add as well that some of the follow-up from this meeting we hope will carry on at the premiers' conference in Jasper in August and my intention to meet with the leaders of both opposition parties over the summer before that meeting.

This was the first first ministers' meeting in almost two years. There was a lot on the agenda for us to discuss. From Ontario's point of view, I believe the most immediate issue related to the new arrangements between the federal government and the provinces to deliver job training. As you know, the federal government recently made a very serious offer to transfer this responsibility to the provinces. We believe this is a very good first step, with the potential for far more coordinated and more effective training and closer to those who need it.

Mr Speaker, 35% of Canada's unemployed live in Ontario; not a statistic any of us are very proud of. We feel strongly that the unemployed in Ontario must have the same chance at getting trained as the unemployed elsewhere in the country. This means that Ontario must get an equitable share of the funding.

I just want to make sure everybody understands that we're not talking about the dollars that are contributed to unemployment insurance of some $8 billion from the province of Ontario; we're talking about the active programs that Mr Young has talked about transferring to the provinces. So in order for an unemployed worker in Ontario to get the same training as an unemployed worker anywhere else in the country, we need the equivalent amount of dollars transferred to us to deliver those programs.

At the meeting I made this point strongly to the Prime Minister. Giving Ontarians a fair shot at training is, we made it very clear, a precondition for an agreement on this file, and I hope we can have the support of all members of the House for this approach.


Transferring job training to the provinces, though, is a key example of how the federation can be rebalanced and how it can be renewed. I personally believe that the federation does need real renewing in a practical and systematic way. Deciding who does what and making sure the programs are effective, efficient and fair is important to the future of Canada, and renewing and rebalancing the federation is, in my view, the most important contribution we, at this particular time, can make to national unity.

At the meeting we made progress on a number of other renewal initiatives.

We made good progress on the issue of clarifying roles and responsibilities in the area of the environment. We agreed to have environment ministers report back to us in November regarding a harmonization framework.

At the meeting the federal government agreed to engage with the provinces on the report of the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal. This report made a number of useful recommendations about the federal spending power and about disentangling roles and responsibilities in social programs. We agreed that intensive multilateral work would be done during the summer and a work plan with objectives and timetables should be presented as soon as possible. I might add, it's our hope that that is at Jasper in August.

We agreed to move on a national commission to regulate securities. Eight provinces, including Ontario, agreed to be part of this initiative. This commission will be good for Ontario investors who currently have to devote a lot of extra time and resources to meet multiple sets of provincial regulations across the country.

We also agreed to do further work on a national agency for revenue collection and a national food agency. These agencies will eliminate needless overlap and duplication, resulting in less government spending, which is good for taxpayers.

A number of other areas where responsibilities might be transferred were reviewed briefly. We agreed to continue to work to devolve mining, recreation, social housing, forestry and tourism to the provinces. In a number of cases the provinces felt the federal transfer might amount to offloading of program responsibilities without the necessary funds. This was unacceptable to most provinces, including Ontario.

I want to be clear on this issue. We were in agreement that the federal government could save the operation dollars by avoiding the duplication and apply those to the deficit, but where there were programs we both agreed should be delivered, those program dollars should be transferred to the province for delivery.

Another item on the agenda was section 49 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Some felt the requirement under this section to review the amending formula within 15 years had been accomplished in the Meech and Charlottetown rounds of meetings. Others felt, for some legal reason or other, that that was in some kind of legal doubt. In order to address this concern, the Prime Minister decided to include this issue on the agenda for this meeting. The only point of debate after the meeting was whether it took 10 seconds or three minutes to deal with that issue.

We also discussed the economy and some actions we might take jointly to give it a boost. The federal government proposed another infrastructure program and we agreed to have our finance ministers review this issue and report back. I must say I continue to believe that the best way for governments to create jobs is to cut taxes. However, I know you will understand when I say there was not universal agreement around this table and no consensus among first ministers on this point. I did, however, secure agreement that governments would not raise taxes to fund a new infrastructure program.

We also discussed another Team Canada trade mission and agreed to plan for one to east Asia in January 1997. Unlike previous missions, it was agreed that this time the provinces would play a larger role in the planning process to ensure that provincial priorities are addressed during the mission.

In conclusion, I want to tell members I was very encouraged by the constructive approach taken at this meeting by first ministers. If I could add into this, the tone also was one of optimism and very positive relative, in my limited experience, to other meetings and what other first ministers had said over the last period of time. I thought, obviously, it was magnificent that all 10 premiers and two territorial leaders attended, and not only attended but participated along with the federal government.

We agreed on a lot. Even when there was not unanimous agreement, we agreed to keep working in the best interests of Canadians. In my opinion, this is the sort of down-to-earth, step-by-step approach that people expect today of their governments and their first ministers.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Further ministerial statements? The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to make a statement. You may want responses first.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Responses first.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Okay, we'll have responses first.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Let me begin by indicating that the central focus of the first ministers' conference, which was obviously a discussion of the devolution of responsibilities to the provinces in areas where the services that are being delivered can be best managed by the provinces, the jurisdiction closest to understanding the different needs of people in different regions of the country, is a concept we support. We recognize the fact that we can't treat the entire country of Canada as one homogeneous unit with all the needs being the same and that there has to be a flexibility in responding, and through a process of devolution many of the critical services that people need can best be tailored to the needs of people in that region by having the provincial governments accept responsibility.

Having said that, for that concept, for that principle to work for people, there has to be a corresponding readiness on the part of the provincial government to accept responsibility for continuing to provide this service, and that is where any sense of optimism about what Ontario can expect as a result of that first ministers' conference ends for us on this side of the House, because we look at what this government has offered to the people of this province in each of those areas the Premier has touched on today, each of those areas where potentially this province would have greater responsibility to provide for the needs of its citizens, and we see a government that has simply abandoned its current responsibilities.

The Premier recognizes in his statement that some 35% of Canada's unemployed live in Ontario. I wonder whether the Premier shared with his fellow first ministers that there are actually more people out of work in the province of Ontario today than there were a year ago when this government came into office. I wonder if he shared with them his budget's projections that there will be even more people out of work three years from now than there were when Mike Harris came into government. I wonder if he shared with the first ministers the fact that they will not be able to deliver on a commitment, an absolute commitment, they made to the people of this province that they would see 725,000 jobs created. I wonder if they shared that information as a basis for what the Premier has described as a spirit of optimism at that conference.

I wonder if this Premier shared with his fellow ministers how many jobs this government has actually killed in the province of Ontario since they came into office, how many jobs they've killed for nurses, teachers, firefighters and police, the very people whom we need to provide the services. I wonder if he talked about the number of jobs that have been killed in the ministry of the environment, in the housing ministry, in the agriculture ministry and the natural resources ministry, all of those areas where this province appears willing to accept some greater responsibility for providing service to our citizens.

The Premier emphasizes the importance of job training. I find this ironic coming from the very government that has done nothing for job training except kill job training programs, the government that only a week ago announced a workfare program without a training component, even though it had made a very clear and absolute commitment that it would not only have training programs to go along with its workfare, but it would commit significant dollars to it, and yet we see nothing of that.

This commitment and concern for training come from a government that has cut funding for colleges and universities by some $400 million and jacked tuition fees, making college and university education inaccessible for thousands of young people in this province. Then they talk about reforms to our secondary school education in which they would go so far perhaps as to actually deny a classroom education for young people who are not going on to college or university and give them credits for summer jobs that have no training component at all. I worry about this particular government accepting the responsibility for job training.


The Premier says they made good progress on clarifying the roles and responsibilities in the area of the environment. I can only despair if this government claims it is now ready to accept greater responsibility in environmental protection. Just look at what they have done in recent weeks alone, as they have systematically dismantled environmental regulation and indeed the Ministry of Environment itself; as they have closed regional Ministry of Environment labs, even laying off one of Canada's outstanding environmental researchers; as they've deregulated land use planning; as they have privatized our parks and turned forest management over to companies, if there's anything left of our forests after they've burned down because this government wasn't ready to fight fires.

They say they're looking at devolution in social housing. God forbid, social housing, where they have abandoned any commitment to non-profit housing and where they stand ready to gut rent control protection for tenants.

The most galling thing that came out of this weekend for me was the Premier joining in the vow to fight child poverty. I only have seven seconds left. I only wish the Premier had renewed that vow and that we would see some redirection of resources to eliminating the level of child poverty --

The Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to respond to the Premier's statement on behalf of our caucus.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): So how come Howie's not here?

Mr Wildman: He's going to be here later.

I must say I am a little bit nonplussed by this statement. The Premier points out very clearly that he is in agreement with the other first ministers of Canada that we should be doing everything possible to ensure that there is not duplication and that it is clarified in our system of federal relationships which governments will be responsible for which programs. We all agree with that, but I am very concerned that we now have in this statement a Premier making a comment that he is concerned about the fact that 35% of Canada's unemployed live in Ontario. We are all concerned about that.

Then he goes on to say: "We feel strongly that the unemployed in Ontario must have the same chance of getting trained as the unemployed elsewhere in the country. This means that Ontario must get an equitable share of funding."

I recall the now Premier's statement when he was leader of the third party referring to the previous government in May 1994, when he said, "This government in Ontario is reduced to whining and squabbling with other levels of government." Surely we don't have the member for Nipissing now reduced to whining and squabbling with other levels of government.

Also, I must say that we are in this party very concerned that we may, in this process, be seeing a situation where this Conservative government of Ontario takes full control and responsibility for training programs, a government that has cut $430 million out of post-secondary education and training, a government that has gutted the Jobs Ontario Training program, a government that has increased tuition fees, a government that is making it more and more difficult for single parents to get the training they require, a government that is forcing those people into a welfare trap, a government that says it wants to help, to give them a hand up, not a handout, but is simply cutting the handout. There's no hand up whatever from this government.

I'm very concerned about the Premier's statement about environmental protection. This is a government that has completely gutted the Ministry of Environment and Energy and is looking at deregulating the way we deal with protection for the environment and leaving it to industry. If we are now moving towards harmonization in this way, all it will mean is that right across Canada we're going to be harmonizing downward. It's going to be less protection for the environment, it's going to mean more deregulation and we're going to see serious pollution problems and degradation of the environment in the future in our country.

The biggest thing that is missing in this statement, though, is the paragraph the Premier used in responding to that portion of the meeting in Ottawa that dealt with section 49 of the Constitution Act of 1982. In that paragraph the Premier says that some people felt the requirement had been met by Meech and Charlottetown. He then said that others felt there was some doubt. He never in this paragraph or anywhere in this statement says what he feels. He never says what the government of Ontario, the largest province, thinks about the requirement under section 49 of the Constitution.

Surely it is time for the Premier of this province and the government of Ontario to show some leadership with regard to the renewal of the constitutional framework of this country. Surely it's time we were able to ask: Do we agree with those who feel that the requirement has been met by Meech and Charlottetown or do we agree with those who have some doubt? What is the government's position? How can the Premier get up here and make a statement and never tell us what Ontario had to say?

I suppose if there was three minutes of discussion of this at the meeting, perhaps the Premier wasn't paying attention. Perhaps he missed it or maybe he joined Mr Bouchard outside for a smoke. Is this government taking a position? Is this government taking a lead on the future of Canada? Is this government prepared to stand up for Ontario and to stand up for Canada? It's about time Ontario took a lead in renewing the Constitution.


Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent on a statement on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: As one of those whose ancestors have been here since the 1660s, I am pleased to engage the Legislature with regard to Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

C'est le 24 juin, la Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Au nom du gouvernement et de mon parti, je souhaite à tous nos Canadiens et Canadiennes d'expression française, peu importe où ils se retrouvent au sein du pays, une joyeuse Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Je profite surtout de l'occasion pour saluer la communauté francophone de l'Ontario, qui célèbre cette fête et nous permet de revivre nos origines culturelles ensemble et en français.

Depuis la création de la Confédération, l'Ontario a toujours reconnu l'importance de l'unité, de notre survie et de notre développement économique. L'Ontario a toujours reconnu l'importance du développement et de la stabilité économique pour l'unité de notre pays.

En tant que ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones, j'aimerais que notre province retrouve pleinement son potentiel bilingue, qui est un atout tout à fait spécial, et il faut en profiter.

Nous devons faire comprendre aux investisseurs que l'Ontario dispose des infrastructures nécessaires pour former la main-d'oeuvre dont ils ont besoin. La promotion de notre main-d'oeuvre bilingue nous permettra d'être plus concurrentiels non seulement au niveau national, mais au niveau international. Nous devons donc continuer d'évoluer pour demeurer compétitifs dans la globalisation de nos marchés.

C'est pour ces raisons que mes collègues et moi sommes fiers que l'Ontario français est un exemple de la contribution ontarienne à la vision d'un Canada uni de l'Atlantique au Pacifique.

Je suis heureux que nos Franco-Ontariens peuvent s'unir en ce jour pour fêter ensemble notre langue et culture françaises, préservées depuis plus de quatre siècles.

La Saint-Jean-Baptiste est l'occasion unique pour les francophones d'un Canada uni de célébrer ce patrimoine et ces acquis. Je souhaite donc une heureuse Saint-Jean-Baptiste à tous nos Ontariens et Ontariennes d'expression française et à tous nos francophones à travers le Canada uni.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): As I mentioned in my earlier statement, this is a day to celebrate la francophonie in Ontario and this is a day we should look at what unites us and not what divides us. It's a very important day for all French-speaking people, not only in Ontario or Quebec, but in Canada.

Je crois que l'Ontario a un rôle très important à jouer dans la francophonie non seulement de l'Ontario mais du Canada. Dans les années précédentes, les premiers ministres tel que M. Robarts, tel que M. Davis, tel que David Peterson, tel que Bob Rae ont joué un rôle important dans l'unité du Canada.

Lorsqu'on parle de l'unité du Canada, on parle de cultures différentes comme celle d'un francophone et d'un anglophone. Je crois qu'en Ontario, avec ces compressions budgétaires, la francophonie s'inquiète. Nous avons une peur présentement que, avec les compressions budgétaires, nous sommes en deuxième ou peut-être en troisième rang.

Même avec l'assurance du premier ministre dernièrement que la Loi 8 ne sera touchée ni modifiée, je m'inquiète parce que la francophonie en Ontario est suspendue à la branche d'un arbre qui s'appelle l'Ontario. L'Ontario doit jouer un rôle important au Canada, mais en commençant par l'Ontario, et afin d'assurer que la francophonie en Ontario aura une survie, la Loi 8 doit demeurer en place. Il ne faut pas changer ou modifier la Loi 8. Il ne faut pas transférer la responsabilité du gouvernement à d'autres agences telles qu'aux municipalités.

Les services en français touchent les services du gouvernement provincial, et une municipalité ou une agence n'a pas la responsabilité d'offrir ces services en français. Je suis convaincu que vous savez que la Loi 8 ne touche pas les municipalités, et je veux m'assurer que le message est transmis au premier ministre de l'Ontario.

The Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, mentioned that he is just back from his first premiers' conference, and I know the unity subject was on the agenda. I hope the Premier defended the cause of Franco-Ontarians at the first ministers' conference and that he will every day that he stands to speak on unity. Francophones, aboriginal people and anglophones are all Ontarians.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Cette journée on a encore l'occasion de célébrer la contribution de tous les francophones en Ontario depuis l'acceptation de notre province au Canada. On sait que les francophones ont oeuvré beaucoup d'années et ont travaillé très fort avec tous les Ontariens pour bâtir une province dont on peut vraiment être fier.

Les contributions qu'on a vues aux secteurs d'affaires, des arts et de la culture à travers la province et celles des travailleurs impliqués dans le mouvement des syndicats démontrent vraiment une communauté, que nous, francophones en Ontario, avons notre place et que l'on travaille ensemble. On va tous dans la même direction parce qu'on croit que cette province en est réellement une dont on peut tous être fier, francophones, anglophones et autres.

Aussi, cette année on célèbre cette journée de manière un peu différente, en regardant ce qui s'est passé la dernière année avec ce gouvernement, et on commence vraiment à s'inquiéter, comme francophones en Ontario, que le gouvernement a besoin de mieux comprendre les besoins des francophones.

Je suis francophone, né ici en Ontario. Mon premier langage, c'est le français, et je comprends, avec mes compatriotes, qu'il est très important qu'un gouvernement s'engage à être certain que les francophones ont accès à un système d'éducation dans leur langue qui peur servir leurs besoins dans leur langue et dans leur culture. C'est important d'avoir les services nécessaires dans nos municipalités, qu'on peut avoir accès aux services de santé et à d'autres services.

Il y a beaucoup de francophones qui commencent à s'inquiéter de la direction prise par le gouvernement ontarien sur cette question. On demande au gouvernement de l'Ontario de se rengager et de se rappeler que les francophones font partie de la province. On est une partie très importante de 550 mille personnes dans la province et on a besoin d'avoir l'appui de notre gouvernement.

Aussi, on dit au gouvernement que l'on veut que l'engagement envers la Loi 8 soit claire, que ce soit une loi mise en place pour être sûr que tous les francophones de la province ont accès dans leurs régions, comme c'est indiqué dans la Loi 8, aux services en français. On demande au gouvernement de rester engagé avec cette loi parce qu'elle est très importante pour tous les francophones dans la province.

Le premier ministre a eu, la fin de semaine passée, la chance de rencontrer les premiers ministres des autres provinces et le premier ministre canadien. Je vous rappelle, M. Harris, que nous, Franco-Ontariens, pouvons jouer un rôle très important quand ça vient à la question de la constitution du Canada. Les francophones comprennent très bien l'importance de la francophonie, non seulement en Ontario. On comprend aussi, je pense, d'une manière un peu différente que les autres les sentiments au Québec. On peut travailler comme francophones à travers le pays, au Québec et hors Québec, pour bâtir les liens nécessaires pour démontrer au Québec et aux Québécois francophones qu'ici au Canada, on est mieux servis comme francophones au lieu d'être séparés de notre pays nous-mêmes.

Je demande au premier ministre et à son gouvernement de toujours se rappeler que les francophones de l'ACFO et d'autres organismes francophones veulent jouer un rôle positif et demandent au gouvernement à toute occasion de s'engager, d'adopter une position consultative pour être capables de réaliser que les possibilités de ce qu'on peut faire ensemble sont tellement importantes.

Je souhaite à tous les francophones de la province aujourd'hui une bonne fête. Aujourd'hui on célèbre, et demain on va en avant et on continue l'ouvrage qu'on a fait comme Ontariens dans cette province.

The Speaker: Time for oral question period.


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Mr Speaker, I wonder perhaps before question period if we might have unanimous consent to say a few words. If you want the clock to run in question period, that's fine too. We probably don't have unanimous consent for that, but to say a few words, I would seek unanimous consent now.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mr Harris: I'm pleased to lead off and take this opportunity to say a few words of congratulations on behalf of all members of the government caucus to the member for Rainy River. On behalf -- I think I can speak of another club -- of all of us who have sought the leadership of our respective parties, successful or otherwise, it's an experience unlike any other in the political process. It is not at any municipal level; it is very unique at the partisan level of provincial and federal politics.

I want to say to members of the House too that we're creations of this democratic process as it has evolved and been passed on to us, so it's moving, always, to watch a party select its leader at a convention. This exercise is really the cornerstone of our parliamentary democracy, so all of us who are interested in politics watched with interest over the weekend.

I think also I have some appreciation for how the member for Rainy River is feeling today. It was some six years ago that I found myself in a similar position. I know, as well, that the member once attended university on a hockey scholarship, almost turned professional. That's good training from time to time, being able to keep your elbows up when they need to be up. You're going to find yourself skating very fast from time to time, as well, and I think that will serve you in good stead.

I also want to reflect, if I might -- and here I realize I'm not speaking on behalf of all members of the Legislature but those who reside close to and north of the French River.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Thanks.

Hon Mr Harris: I included you in "close to."

The choice has caused me to reflect on speculation. Whenever there is a member from northern Ontario -- for a time, anyway, there are three leaders in this Legislature who can speak to that -- there is always lots of speculation that it's a disadvantage to come from northern Ontario, that it's a disadvantage for the party to elect somebody from northern Ontario. I think the Leader of the Opposition will remember such speculation. I remember that speculation. While it hasn't been everybody's first choice in how to resolve the issue, I think we would at least agree that in the last election we resolved that issue as far as regional electability goes.


I want to also extend congratulations to the members for Dovercourt and Beaches-Woodbine and to the member for Welland-Thorold. I asked where he was because I wanted to say hello to him today. I figured he'd still be celebrating, but I'm told that contrary to that he's telling the people of Peterborough what a wonderful job the government's doing at this moment.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): He's probably talking about you right at this very moment.

Hon Mr Harris: We've agreed he is talking about me anyway.

I know that on our side Dianne and I can speak to this -- Dianne particularly, on one side of it -- and many others of course understand that.

I also particularly want to acknowledge the service for the past few months of the member for Algoma. I think he's served the party and the Legislature well as interim leader of the party. I believe he'll always have very deserved respect from all members of the House in a continuing role.

I know what it's like to be leader of the third party. It's not without its frustrations when you come up with marvellous things that will save the world and the country or the province, or at least some aspect of it, and not quite as much attention is paid as ought to be. I know as well, though, that you can go from third to first, and while I'm going to wish you lots of success, not quite that much.

I believe that as leader of your party the role is one of equal importance to leaders of all parties and ought to be treated that way, and will be by me; I assure you of that. I can't speak for the media or the electorate, but I'm sure the media at least understand the volatility of voter wishes in the province of Ontario over the period of the last few elections.

We have a lot of things we can work together on in this Legislature. We may disagree from time to time on how we get to some of the goals -- the concern about jobs, the economy, the north and the unique difficulties there on the challenges of those who are not participating as well or benefiting as well as others from all this great province has to offer -- but I want to say to the member that I look forward to working with him on those goals.

I perhaps would say that in the nine years I and those of us who've been here that long have observed and worked with the member, in government, as opposition and as a minister of the crown, we've come to know you as a committed public servant, with integrity and dedication to this province. I believe you have that firm commitment and I wish you well on behalf of our colleagues, our entire caucus and our party, because you are also leader of a party with its unique responsibility as well. We wish you very well in your new responsibilities. Congratulations.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): This is one of those truly rare moments in the Legislature when I essentially want to echo the comments of the Premier of the province, because I do want to express, on behalf of all the members of my caucus and indeed of our party, congratulations to the member for Rainy River on his victory this weekend and on his assuming the leadership of the New Democratic Party.

As the Premier has pointed out and as the media have commented over the course of the weekend, the victory for the member for Rainy River does create a historical moment in the province of Ontario since, for the current moment in any event, it is a time when all three leaders are from northern Ontario.

The Premier will appreciate the fact that I want to suggest that it's equally unique that two of the leaders of the parties in the Legislature are actually from northwestern Ontario, and I think that really is unique as we appreciate the sheer width of this province and the fact that until I had the opportunity to become leader of our party, there had not been a leader from northwestern Ontario in Ontario before. I think perhaps we're setting a trend, but in any event I think what has been clearly demonstrated, as the Premier has noted, is that candidates from even the most distant parts of the province can be fully accepted across Ontario.

I know that the member for Rainy River brings a knowledge and understanding of northwestern and northern Ontario issues, but I know too that he brings a very clear understanding that this is a very complex province with many different regions and different needs and that he will bring to that an understanding of those different needs and a genuine concern for all parts of the province, which is so essential to leadership.

We do wish you well in your new role, although my caucus members would want me to add, since we are still opposition parties, not too well in your new role. We will look forward to working with you as the moment seems appropriate, and there are other occasions when we will look forward to working against you when this political business seems to make that even more appropriate.

I also want to offer my congratulations, as the Premier has, not only to Mr Hampton but to his fellow candidates in this leadership campaign. I think that stepping forward as a leadership candidate for your party involves a tremendous personal commitment and that commitment is both to your party and it's also to the province of Ontario and to the political process. I would join as well in extending congratulations to the member for Algoma on his very strong, very vocal, very effective carrying out of the role of interim leader. I know that the other leadership candidates and the member for Algoma will be around for the fight for a long time and will continue to be formidable opponents in this place.

But I think we do recognize, as the Premier has said, that these aren't easy times in any party to be providing leadership, and the willingness of individuals to take on the challenge of leadership is a contribution to the democratic process and to this province that I think simply cannot be measured.

So we do offer our congratulations and our best wishes both to the new leader and to his colleagues, and we do that with genuine respect for the value of the work that we all do in this place and for our shared commitment to the future of this province.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): All members I think will understand why I have a particular interest in this event, and I'm particularly happy to congratulate the member for Rainy River on his success on the weekend because it now means that I have a little more time to live a normal existence around this place.

I do want to welcome the member for Rainy River from Peterborough, as well as our very successful convention on the weekend in Hamilton, and on behalf of all of our caucus members to indicate how pleased we were with the result and how he conducted himself and all of the candidates conducted themselves on the weekend and throughout the campaign for the leadership of our party. They all served us very well and I believe served the political process, the democratic process, very well in this province. So on behalf of all of my colleagues, I'd like to extend my congratulations not only to Howard but to the member for Dovercourt, the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the member for Welland-Thorold.

On the weekend as the voting progressed I was asked by a member of the gallery, who shall remain nameless, whether it was a good idea to have a northerner elected as leader, which I thought was a little odd asking me that question. Then I pointed out to that individual that I understood that the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition were both from northern Ontario, and the member of the media then went on to say: "Well, aren't you a little concerned at having a northern leader? He might not be able to really understand the problems of the rest of the province." I thought about the Leader of the Opposition and the Premier and thought, maybe he's right. Indeed, it was a silly question and I guess I gave a silly answer.


It's important, though, for us in our party to recognize, as I'm sure the members of the Conservative Party and the members of the Liberal Party understand, that our leaders may be from northern Ontario and are proud of that heritage and that background and understand the problems of the north, but they also are elected leaders of this whole great province and are there to lead us in dealing with issues that matter to all Ontarians. We have every confidence, as the members of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party have in their leaders, that Howard Hampton will serve us and the province of Ontario very, very well in that capacity.

I'd also, on a personal note, like to express on behalf of all of my colleagues congratulations to one other member who had a particular interest in this leadership campaign, and that is the member for Sudbury East, who conducted herself very well under significant pressure and really served all of us and helped Howard very well throughout the campaign.

I just want to say again on behalf of everyone in our party how pleased we are to be able to welcome Howard here this afternoon and we look forward to the fight in this place with all of our colleagues from the other two parties.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I am indeed flattered by the remarks, but not that flattered. I appreciate all of the kind comments. I appreciate, from the Premier, his drawing of the road map, how you go from third place to first place. I indeed appreciate that. I've studied your path well and we'll do our best to duplicate it very soon. I also want to thank the leader of the official opposition, whom I've known for a number of years now, and knew of her before she and I were both elected to this place at the same time. I say to Lyn McLeod that I guess this means we're competing once again for the Thunder Bay media. Maybe we can work a deal. You do it on Thursdays, I'll do it on Fridays, and we won't overlap too much.

I want to thank all members of the House for their kindness. I think many people don't realize outside of this place the work that goes into being elected, the work that goes into politics. Many people don't understand how we can fight hard here and on the hustings and still respect one another and like one another and admire one another. Too often, I guess, that gets lost in the shuffle, but I want you to know I appreciate the good wishes and the good feelings.

I want to congratulate and thank the member for Algoma, who has brought true meaning to the term "this Bud's for you." Many of you have experienced over the last four or five months what we have always known in our caucus: what a tremendously hard worker, what a dedicated individual he is, and how hard he fights.

I want to thank my colleagues the member for Dovercourt, who worked very hard, ran a splendid campaign; the member for Beaches-Woodbine, who ran an excellent campaign; and the member for Welland-Thorold, even though he's not always with us every day.


Mr Hampton: I think some of you have read more than one meaning into that statement.

I also want to thank the member for Sudbury East. The member for Sudbury East is an incredible adviser. She has very good political judgement, good political instincts. She's a good strategist. When I wrote my first speech for the convention she looked at it and said, "Do you want to talk to the delegates or do you want to teach philosophy?" I promptly put it away and wrote another speech, and I'm glad that I did.

I say to all of you that I expect we will continue to have some tough fights in this House. Please remember, none of it's personal. I only know one way to work at politics, and that is to work at it full speed ahead as hard as you can all the time. I never mean anything personal. I have the greatest of respect for everyone in this House, even people who hold diametrically opposite ideological views of the province. I know that all of you work hard. I know that we all mean well here. So take none of it personally if you find that over the next while I enjoy the fight too much. Thank you very much, Speaker. Thank you all.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Minister, you and your government keep talking about how important it is to have a well-educated workforce, and on that point we would agree. The problem is that your rhetoric is right but your policies are all wrong and it is becoming only too clear that your policies are producing the wrong results.

According to figures that have been supplied by the Ontario university application centre, some 500 fewer high school students have applied from Ontario high schools to go to university this fall. Those young people who are not going to university are certainly not going to be going to a community college instead, because it is shocking to find that the number of applications from high school students who want to go to community college next year has plunged by 4,000.

There is one very simple reason for these decreases: a 20% increase in university tuition fees, a 15% increase in college tuition fees. Those increases have made post-secondary education virtually unattainable for thousands of Ontario high school students. Minister, will you acknowledge now that your tuition fee increases are preventing thousands of young people in this province from getting the education they need?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): No, I will not. There is no correlation between the tuition fees and the enrolments for next year. We are tracking enrolments very carefully, as we have looked in the past at enrolment figures, to see what will predict enrolments in universities and colleges across Ontario. I can assure the honourable member opposite that it's not in fact tuition fees, that there are other factors.

By the way, those numbers are very early and represent a very, very, very small percentage change in the enrolment over what has been predicted, and we'll see what happens as the summer rolls through.

Mrs McLeod: I have a feeling the minister is making up the other factors, that he is bluffing when he says there's no correlation between decreased numbers of students at a time of increased unemployment for young people who think that their options are going on to college and university and the fact that they have raised the tuition fees by 15% to 20% in this province. He seems to think that's just a coincidence. The bottom line is that this fall there are 4,500 fewer young people who are going to be going to college or university, 4,500 more young people who are saying they cannot afford to go to college or university because of this government's policies.

I find it ironical, not only that the minister suggests that there are other factors but that the policies of increased tuition fees that this minister and this government have brought in don't even fit with the campaign commitments this government made. When this government was campaigning, they said very clearly in writing in the campaign document that tuition fees would be allowed to rise slightly over a four-year period to 25% of the operating costs of a university or college education.

The fact is that prior to your tuition fee increases students were already paying 26% of the cost of their education. So they were already paying more than what your government in its campaign commitment said was a fair share for students. Despite that, you went ahead and raised tuition, not by a slight amount, not over a four-year period, but in one fell swoop by 20% in universities and 15% in colleges.

Minister, I ask you, when did the change in policy occur? Are you now saying that 25% was not a fair share, that 33% is a fair share for students to pay? Is this your new government policy?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I would have thought that the honourable member opposite would know that the fair share -- and I think it's important for the people of Ontario to recognize the fair share of the government, the fair share of institutions and the fair share of the students in paying for post-secondary education. That's a subject that has been in front of previous governments. This government is going to make it part of a discussion paper to talk fulsomely with various people across the province.


I'm very surprised that the Leader of the Opposition has not mentioned the fact that this government will continue and in fact enhance the support of students in colleges and universities next year through increased funding to the Ontario student assistance program. We have $100 million invested in a matching fund system, in a trust fund, for student aid. We've asked the colleges and universities to reinvest 10% of the increases in tuitions into student aid. There is a movement by this government to increase the assistance available to students, particularly those students in most financial need. I think it's an enviable track record.

Mrs McLeod: It is absolutely clear that you are out of touch with what young people are saying about what your tuition increases have done to their sense of accessibility to a college or a university education. You have continued to put up hurdles. You have reduced your support to colleges and universities. You have copped out of putting in place any substantial increase in student support to make up for your tuition increases by saying the universities can do some of it. Your foundation, which you like to boast about, will not see a penny actually returned to students for years and years, and in the meantime the only thing you've actually done for students is charge them, through a 1-900 number, for being able to get any information about student loans. You've just put in place one hurdle after another.

As the minister makes reference to previous governments, I think it's interesting to note that the last time students in this province saw tuition increases of this magnitude was under a previous Conservative government way back in 1980.

Since it is clear that young people are now paying more than what you and what your government said in your campaign document was a fair share for students -- they're paying more than the 25% you said was a reasonable cost for students to bear; since you've already passed that, will you give students, young people in this province some assurance that you're not going to put more hurdles in place in the future, that you're not going to keep raising the bar? Will you declare today that your goal for students paying a share of their cost of education has been reached and that you are going to freeze tuition fees for students in this province for the next three years?

Hon Mr Snobelen: To the Leader of the Opposition, I can commit right now to the fact that this government will put the issue of what the fair share is of the province in a discussion paper. We will do that in the very near future. We believe that's an important thing that we should have a lot of input on from stakeholders, from the students, from the institutions, and listen to the taxpayers on this issue.

I also can assure the member opposite that we will invest in student aid, will invest more money in student aid next year than we did this year. We will improve our programs, will improve the help of co-op programs for college and university students. We've increased the amount of summer employment that's available for students across the province. We have implemented a number of measures that will help students.

I'm somewhat surprised by the whole context of the question. I would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition, who served as a Minister of Colleges and Universities, would know and would have experienced while she was involved in that portfolio the fact that enrolment trends in colleges and universities over the last few decades in Ontario have followed, in an opposite fashion, the general economy. Normally, when there is some fall-off in enrolments, a minor fall-off in enrolments, it's because there are more job opportunities out in the community.

So perhaps what we're beginning to hear is the echo of a recovery of the economy in Ontario. Maybe we're hearing the echo of some new job opportunities for young people in the province of Ontario. I think if the Leader of the Opposition listens very carefully, that's what she'll hear is going on in Ontario.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question again today for the Minister of Correctional Services and the Solicitor General. Minister, I'd like to go back to Elgin-Middlesex. What we do know is that on March 1 the alleged beatings took place. We know that on March 4 the child advocate called the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services and your acting deputy minister of the day to inform them of the incident that took place and of her concerns about the safety of the young offenders still at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. During all this time, we do know that a mother of one of the young offenders frantically made over a dozen phone calls to your office to try to get the message through of her concerns for her son's safety.

But during the last couple of weeks of questioning in this House, you have continually denied knowledge of any of this for at least a three-month period. We now know, despite your claims, that your ministry prepared a briefing note to inform you of its concerns on March 7, and it specifically said that a mother feared for her son's safety. If you were on top of your job when you were reading this, I'm sure alarm bells would have gone off in your mind about the situation. I'm sure that with your political instinct you would have had a lot more questions about this particular incident and I'm sure would have followed up with your officials. Do you still expect us to believe you didn't know about this incident until June of this year?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I think it was the first or second day the issue was raised in the House that I indicated we did have a record of a call from a mother which was referred to officials in the ministry of corrections, and the mother indicated she was satisfied with the response.

With respect to the note indicating a safety concern, I think that's valid, and I think the written word in terms of interpretation is a subjective matter, to say the least, and the opposition is putting one interpretation on it. Mr Speaker, I think if you put yourself in the place of a mother of a young offender who had been housed in a facility where a riot had just occurred causing significant damage, you would be concerned about the safety of that young offender in a riot situation.

If indeed there were any allegations with respect to maltreatment or physical assaults against young offenders, that would have been incorporated in an issue note. I interpret that issue note dramatically differently than the member opposite does. In fact, I think it's confirmation that the issues group and the minister's staff were not aware of those allegations whatsoever.

Mr Ramsay: It looks like your ministry was working on this, but it looks like you and your office dropped the ball in this whole incident. I suggest you take a long look in the mirror and maybe think you are the problem in this ministry and not those officials who were trying to get this situation corrected.

For weeks now, your statements have been incredulous. We know the child advocate reported to your officials, your acting deputy minister, about this incident on March 4, and she also had recommended that these young people be moved for their own safety. Your briefing note, three days later, mentions that the mother of one of these young offenders had brought these concerns to your officials in your office.

We have two different sources now of concern coming into your ministry office, the child advocate, also the official guardian of children in this province, prescribing an official remedy: move those young people, transfer them to another facility. Why did it take you three months to react? Why was nothing done? Why did you do nothing?

Hon Mr Runciman: I've indicated time and again that no one was happy with the young offenders being housed in an adult institution. I think that's understandable. They were there because a riot had occurred at Bluewater, causing extensive damage to that facility, and they had to be housed in a facility until appropriate quarters could be found. In fact, every effort was made by the child advocate and ministry staff to try to find alternative accommodation. Because of the strike situation and the lack of cooperation surrounding the labour dispute, we were unable to move those young offenders, the bulk of them, until the labour dispute was settled.

Mr Ramsay: I still believe something is rotten here. We have to get to the bottom of this. We know that the official guardian, the child guardian, the advocate, had brought these concerns to your office, and we now know that the concerned mother's calls to you were taken by your staff and recorded in your briefing note.

We know that ministers in this place are not compelled to answer under oath. We have many officials involved here, each with their own story to tell, and you have told us your story here repeatedly. But the public needs to know the truth and the only way to get to the truth is to have all the people involved, including the minister, testify in this place under oath. When are you going to order a legislative inquiry so that the people of Ontario will know the truth and all of us can get to the bottom of this incident?

Hon Mr Runciman: I don't hear a lot of concern from the public at large with respect to whether or not I'm telling the truth. I think I've indicated clearly I am telling the truth. The facts are out there. We've put them on the table over the past two and a half weeks that we've been discussing this issue. We have two investigations under way and they'll be made public in due course.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the leader of the third party.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): This will end some time or other.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The member for Nickel Belt says this will end very soon.

My question is also to the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. A dark cloud surrounds you concerning the manner in which you have handled the scandal at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. You have shown the people of the province that you don't have a clue what is going on in your ministry. You have lurched from one investigation after another in your attempt to hide the fact that it is you, the minister, who is ultimately responsible for the alleged beatings and other abuse of young people in the care of your ministry at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. You have never explained why your acting deputy minister didn't inform you about the child advocate's concerns which were reported to your ministry as early as March 4, and there are many other unanswered questions.

The fact of the matter is, people don't believe you. You have claimed that you did not find out about the allegations of abuse to young people at Elgin-Middlesex until June 5, but recent press reports indicate that a contentious issue note dated March 7, prepared by your ministry, states:

"On March 5, 1996, a mother of a young offender who had been at Bluewater during this disturbance and subsequently transferred to Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre called the minister's office to express concern about her son's safety."

This note was prepared to keep you and your office informed of contentious issues, and I've got a copy of it. It's in bold print. It's not something you would easily gloss over. How do you explain what action you took when you and your staff read this note dated March 7, 1996?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm honoured to be on the receiving end of the first question from the new leader of the third party. I congratulate him and I'm not going to take anything he says personally.

I indicated in my response to the member for Timiskaming my interpretation of that following a riot at a young offenders institution where there was serious damage done, and I think it's understandable that a parent would have concern about an offspring in circumstances like that. That's how I interpret it, and I think any objective observer would interpret it in the same way.

Mr Hampton: I want to ask the minister definitively: Did you read this note dated March 7 or a note similar to it?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm an honest person and I'll tell you that I can't recall whether I read it or not. I will indicate that we had hundreds of issues in the corrections ministry on a daily basis during the strike situation. I tried to cover as many as I could, and I had briefing sessions on a daily basis with the acting deputy minister.

The ministry of corrections at the best of times is a challenging ministry in terms of the incident reports, but I feel comfortable with the reports I had on the basis of the efforts I made to try and keep on top of the wide range of issues.

Mr Hampton: This becomes more incredible all the time. This is a briefing note, and it has written in bold print, bold print that no one would be able to ignore: "Major disturbance at BYC contained, successfully resolved. The office of child and family service advocacy also investigating." Then it goes through a number of details, all of which, if a minister is awake or his staff are alert at all, every one of these incidents would give cause to check out the circumstances, to make sure that nothing untoward was happening.

Then the final part: On March 5, 1996, a mother of a young offender calls to raise an alert and to express concern about her son's safety. It's absolutely incredible that the minister would then say, "Well, I don't recall."

I want to ask the minister about another document. This is a directive from the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services, office of the assistant deputy minister, correctional services division, and it deals with how seriously issue notes are to be taken.

It says on this, "There is a clear, firm requirement by the offices of the minister and deputy minister that briefing papers should be prepared by 11 am to respond to media queries or questions in the Legislature when it is in session." Obviously a directive has come down in the corrections division of this minister's ministry saying: "These matters are to be treated very seriously. Notes are to be put forward very soon. Notes are to be made available for the minister's office."

How can the minister explain to the House? He issued this directive saying all of this was to be taken seriously. He gets a note like this, which is obviously very serious on its face -- it has a number of serious details throughout it -- and the minister can't even recall if he ever saw it. How does the minister add all of this up?

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated clearly the first or second day this issue was raised that the call was received. We received, as I indicated, hundreds of calls from a variety of people who were concerned about the corrections situation during the strike. It might have been the spouse of a correctional officer or someone who had a spouse or family member as an inmate in the correctional system and who was concerned about their safety in an ongoing situation because of the staffing situation and the strike situation.

They were appropriately referred to the ministry of corrections for action. In this particular instance the ministry responded. The parent indicated her satisfaction with the response. I've indicated from the outset that we were aware of the call and that the ministry acted appropriately.

The Speaker: New question.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): To the same minister: Minister, I have a copy of a memo dated June 4, 1996, the day before you allege that you heard about this incident in the EMDC. It's addressed to the western regional manager of correctional services from Mr Simpson, then the superintendent at Elgin-Middlesex. This memo is clearly Mr Simpson's response to the child advocate's report on Elgin-Middlesex. The first sentence in Mr Simpson's memo reads, "The above-captioned report" -- the child advocate's report -- "was discussed with senior management staff, health care staff and the institution chaplain."

I've already raised in this House with you a number of times the inappropriateness of managers who may be the subject of ongoing investigations having access to the child advocate's report and that this situation compromises the results of all the ongoing investigations. But what is most disturbing is the widening number of people, the number of ministry officials who apparently knew about these allegations of abuse, but you, Minister, say you were kept in the dark.

We know now that the following people at least were aware of this before you, Minister: the senior management staff at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, including Mr Simpson, Mr Huber, the health care staff, the institution chaplain; your acting deputy minister, Michael Jordan; the deputy minister, Elaine Todres; the assistant deputy minister, Neil McKerrell; Nandy Farkas of the ministry's internal investigations unit; and the minister's legislative assistant.

Minister, do you really expect us to believe that ministry officials were reading the child advocate's report, were meeting to discuss the report and were responding to that report well before June 5 when you say you were first told and you didn't have a clue that anything had happened?

Hon Mr Runciman: I've indicated my position on this on numerous occasions. No matter what I say, the member opposite will never be convinced.

Mrs Boyd: We know that on March 4, Michael Jordan, the acting deputy minister, was made aware of allegations that young people had been beaten while in the care of your ministry. Minister, can you tell us the exact date that your deputy minister, Elaine Todres, upon returning to her position from a leave, was made aware of these allegations and what actions she took at that point?

Hon Mr Runciman: I indicated -- I hate to make mistakes on dates, but I think it was something like the first week in June that the deputy was -- the report was delivered to her office near the end of May. She was in London, out of the office, and I think she read the report on Tuesday of the following week and I was informed the following day.

Mrs Boyd: That's rather odd, Minister, since she was appearing in front of a legislative committee on April 15.

I believe the minister should be responding more directly to this and indicating to the public of this province very clearly exactly what the line of accountability is within his ministry. He should be responding. He is responsible, and he should be responding to the various widespread concerns about the way this matter was handled internally, not just by ministry officials but your own office, Minister, for which you are directly responsible. Your political staff knew, and if they didn't tell you, what kind of a minister are you?


This is an attempt for you to try and hide this matter, to sweep it under the carpet, to keep employees who may have participated in the alleged events on the job, keep them caring for the same young people who had those allegations of abuse against those people. We're dealing with accountability. We're dealing here with responsibility of a minister, and as regrettable and as unfortunate as it sometimes is, when we're dealing with who is responsible for the lack of communication within his or her ministry, there's only one person who can accept that responsibility, and that one person is you, Minister.

In opposition your leader said, and I quote Hansard from July 16, 1992, "That lack of communication, if in fact that's what it was, is the minister's responsibility and it is the minister's responsibility to resign until we get a thorough, independent investigation of what happened with this coverup."

So, Minister, I ask you again: Do the honourable thing; resign.

Hon Mr Runciman: I don't interpret widespread concern as the folks across the aisle. In fact, I think most Ontario residents would recognize that we've done just the opposite from what the members in the opposition would like to suggest with respect to our openness, the fact that we've moved full speed ahead in terms of two investigations -- an internal investigation and an OPP investigation. We've taken all of the appropriate actions, and I think the public of Ontario recognize that.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Premier. Mr Premier, I want to bring your attention to page 10 of your sixth printing of the Common Sense Revolution, where it says in regard to seniors and the disabled: "We will establish a new and separate income supplement program, specifically for those unable to work. Funding for this program will be guaranteed at current levels. Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut."

Premier, in October you cut welfare rates across the province by 22%, when it meant at that time, and it does today, that a disabled individual with one dependant on welfare now receives $957. Under the family benefits plan, where they should be, a disabled person with one dependent receives $1,424. So we're talking about a difference of $487 for each individual.

As of the end of April 1996 there were still 13,326 seniors and disabled collecting welfare in this province for a significant reduction in their pay. That number, Mr Premier, is up 320 from February. So instead of moving individuals out of the welfare system -- the seniors and disabled can't earn their money back -- you've actually increased the number of seniors and disabled who are still dependent on welfare.

Can you explain to the House this blatant betrayal of the promise you made during the election? And what do you say to the over 13,000 seniors and disabled who believed you when you said you were not going to cut their benefits, but you have cut their benefits since October and have moved very few out of that system?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I don't have all the details in front of me. Certainly, our commitment -- pre-election, during the election, in October, and today -- is that not only is it not the intention of this government to cut benefits in our programs to seniors or the disabled, but in fact that's not our intention in the future as well. As you know, we've had to deal with probably the worst-administered and worst-run social welfare program in the history of North America, more money wasted, fewer resources actually getting, in percentage terms, to people who need the resources.

So the minister has faced up to that challenge of working at how we make programs more effective and more meaningful for those who are on social assistance. Now, if you're referring to those who are on GWA awaiting getting on the family benefits programs that have not been cut one cent to seniors or the disabled, we are concerned about the time it takes to move those people from general welfare -- which is not intended, as you know, for seniors or the disabled but in fact is the FBA program -- and of course the new program the minister is working on and will be announcing shortly. We too are concerned if there is a gap in a time frame moving from one program to the other. It's taken time to clean up this mess, but we're getting there.

Mr Agostino: The Premier's intentions are wonderful and the rhetoric is wonderful as to what's happened with the welfare system.

I want to talk specifically about your promise. On page 10 of the Common Sense Revolution, you stated, "Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut." I presume most seniors and disabled across Ontario would take that to mean their benefits would not be reduced when Mike Harris becomes Premier of Ontario and reduces welfare benefits across Ontario. I repeat as I said earlier that as of the end of April there were 13,326 seniors and disabled receiving substantially less money than you promised them during the election. It is clearly a promise you have broken. At this pace, at this speed that you're moving people, it would take you almost four years to move these individuals. People have suffered now for eight, nine, 10 months as a result of your cut.

Let me tell you that your government has saved, on the backs of the seniors and the disabled in Ontario since October, $58 million. That is the amount of money you have taken out of the pockets of seniors and the disabled by your broken commitment: $58 million to fund your tax cut to the wealthy on the backs of the most vulnerable. Those individuals cannot work; they cannot earn it back. Your good intentions and saying you're trying and doing the best you can is simply not good enough, because many of those individuals are struggling simply to get by today as a result of your move. You did not understand, when you made the cut, the number of people who were going to be impacted.

Premier, I go back again. What guarantee can you give today to these over 13,000 individuals as to when you're going to bring in the protected category, and in what time line can these individuals expect to have their benefits fully restored? Please don't tell us about good intentions. Give us a date and a time line today.

Hon Mr Harris: Basically the same question, I suppose, but since you started with referencing page 10, let's start with page 10 of the Common Sense Revolution: We are committed "to move 170,000 of our citizens -- seniors and the disabled -- out of the `welfare system' altogether." These are 170,000 who were on family benefits who we said should move on to --


Hon Mr Harris: I'm sorry, but I'm quoting from the document. You may not like the Common Sense Revolution, but the majority of Ontarians do and they are quite encouraging us to implement it.

It says, "We will establish a new and separate income supplement program" -- which we are in the process of doing, announced it will be forthcoming very shortly -- "specifically for those unable to" find "work," who are the people in this category. "Funding for this program will be guaranteed at current levels." In fact, it will be. Aid for seniors and the disabled, for all those 170,000, has not been cut at all.

What you I believe are referring to is those who apply for welfare in the category of disabled or senior and the time it takes to get to the general welfare, run by the municipalities, to our provincial program. This has been a challenge and a problem since the history of the two systems, one of the reasons we'd like to see it better coordinated and better run.

On the provincial FBA program, not a single penny has been cut for any of those seniors or disabled people, and in fact our challenge is to make sure that we get, as per our commitment to the letter, actually, precisely, all the t's crossed and the i's dotted. We have lived up 100% to the commitment. But far beyond that, we are coming forward with a program far more meaningful for those who are in that category, to treat them with dignity, to take them off welfare where they never belonged before, something that neither you nor our predecessor, following you, had the courage to do.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. Today I joined thousands of Ontarians in Peterborough where people who have been hurt by your government's policies are marching in protest. I met seniors who are being hit by this government's new user fees on drugs. I met a lot of people who have lost their jobs as a result of your government's cuts. I met youths who are having trouble finding jobs against a backdrop of your government's cuts to public sector jobs and services. I met many men and women with disabilities who joined the march to speak out against the Conservative attack on the disabled. There were women's groups and environmentalists angry about the way this government is gutting services and regulations, and there were workers and their unions.

People in Peterborough wanted to know: When is the Premier going to stop favouring his rich friends at the expense of the working people in Ontario? When is the Premier going to realize how destructive his cuts are and how destructive it is to divide the province into haves and have-nots, people who have and people who have less? When is the Premier going to stop doing that?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The leader of the New Democratic Party will know that I will fundamentally disagree with what he believes is the result of our policies that are giving life and hope and opportunity to so many Ontarians where it wasn't there before.

Specifically, when you talk about the haves and the have-nots, never have we seen more growth in that than during the socialist policies of his regime or the government before it. The more you threw money at it, the bigger the problem got.

You talk about seniors' concerns. I want to say to you very directly, and I'm happy to say, seniors overwhelmingly are supportive of the health care policies of the minister, of the new drug care policies. The mail into my office and the phone calls into our office are overwhelmingly in support of what we are doing. Seniors overwhelmingly -- the number one group, in fact, in the province of Ontario -- are saying, "Finally, a government with the courage to do what has to be done and not pass on a legacy to our children." So I fundamentally disagree.

Can you find a senior to disagree? Sure. Can you find a union member to disagree? Yes. I understand that and I understand not everybody agrees with our policies, but let me say very directly to you and to those who disagree with our policies that our goal and our policies are not to deal with those who can fend for themselves or the wealthy in society. They can take care of themselves. Our goal is to have many more people who raise up into the class of working class and into the class of middle class and raise the wealth of the average hardworking Ontario family. That's what you failed to do -- in fact, you destroyed it -- and that is exactly what we are doing.

Mr Hampton: The Premier repeats his same mantra every time he's asked this question. The reality is that all kinds of people have lost their jobs and there are literally hundreds of people in Peterborough who have lost their jobs in the last year. There are other people who are in more desperate circumstances now than they have been in at any other time in their life. There are all kinds of people who have lost valuable education and health care services so that this Premier could give a tax break to the wealthiest people of this province.

The reality is that this Premier is dividing Ontario's society in half. He is giving more benefits, he is giving more tax breaks, he is giving more opportunities to people who are already well off, and he is taking opportunities away, he is taking services away, he is taking resources away from the poorest people in the province.

I say to the Premier again: When are you going to stop dividing Ontario into two halves? When are you going to stop taking from the poorest people in this province and giving to the wealthiest people in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: All the statistics prove the opposite of what you've talked about. Have some people lost jobs? Yes, but more have found jobs than have lost them: 24,000 new jobs the first five months of 1996. An Angus Reid survey: confidence in the provincial economy the highest level in two years. The same survey shows a growing feeling in companies that Ontario is the best province in the country to invest. People who had given up looking for work are now back out there looking for work. Retail sales in Ontario are up 3.3% in the first quarter of this year. Ontario's GDP, since we've taken office, is up 3.1%, well ahead of all of the rest of the provinces. Credit rating: confirmed upgraded in the short term by a couple of agencies.

I want to say that I thought when I welcomed the new leader today that he and I would be working together. In fact, we are working together to do something, because I read the headline in the Toronto Star and it says, "Hampton Vows to Bury NDP Past." So do we.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, you recently announced the recipients of the Ontario local government innovative public service delivery awards, one of which, I'm proud to say, was to the city of Chatham, located in my riding of Chatham-Kent. Could the minister please tell the House a bit more about the background of these awards?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I would like to thank my colleague the member for Chatham-Kent for the question. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the great city of Chatham and the other recipients of this award for finding creative ways of delivering services more efficiently and more effectively.

This annual award began in 1993 as a way of recognizing local governments for innovative approaches to financing and building infrastructure. It is jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Education and Training, the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the Municipal Finance Officers Association, the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario and the Ontario Association of School Business Officials.

The program was expanded in 1996 to cover operating as well as capital innovations involving public-private partnerships. To be eligible, projects must demonstrate tangible benefits such as operating and/or capital cost savings, efficiencies and service improvements and coordination of resources and objectives among governments and private partners.

Mr Carroll: It is obviously good news that municipalities are so actively participating with the private sector in finding ways to cut costs while improving services. Could the minister also tell the House which other municipalities were honoured with an award in finding ways to save money for Ontario taxpayers?

Hon Mr Leach: Again I thank my colleague for the question, because I would be happy to share with this House the other municipalities which were recognized for working to find better, more efficient ways of delivering services to their constituents.

The recipients included the city of Thunder Bay, the town of Ingersoll, the city of Guelph, the town of Smiths Falls and the Frontenac County Board of Education.

I should mention that this is the first year in which a board of education has been recognized for this award. I'm pleased that so many Ontario municipalities and school boards are finding new, creative and less expensive ways of delivering their services.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a question for the Solicitor General. Minister, there is a growing concern and frustration in Metro Toronto as a result of the growth of crimes like shoplifting, breaking and entering and vandalism. It seems that the courts are unable to deal with the problems. On top of that, there are 1,000 fewer police officers in Metropolitan Toronto.

In New York City, for example, the crime rates have plunged by 30% because the city, the state and the courts are now taking all crimes, big and small, seriously. In New York, they clamped down on street prostitution, graffiti vandals, shoplifters and unlicensed pedlars in an effort to restore a sense of comfort and safety on the streets of New York.


Minister, it seems that you're going in the opposite direction here in Ontario, with fewer police officers and essentially looking the other way at small crimes like break-and-enter and vandalism. Will you not reverse this trend your government is now on?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The member raises a good point with respect to the experience New York City has had in the last two to three years. I've been following it closely, and on the face of it it certainly looks like there has been a significant turnaround in terms of the level of crime in New York City. I'm hoping to meet with the commissioner of police from New York City later on this summer to discuss the program they brought forward in that city and see how we can bring it into the process in terms of the policing review now under way in Ontario. The member is aware that we held a policing summit three weeks ago in Toronto, with the key players from various interests in policing right across Ontario moving towards a new Police Services Act some time later this year. We're addressing the concerns you raise here today. I'm certainly very much interested in the New York experience and I think we can learn from it.

Mr Colle: As you know, your partner the Attorney General is embarking on a plan to de-emphasize some of the criminal acts that take place. Break-and-enters and vandalism are going to be put in a different category. How is this going to reassure the people of Toronto who have their stores broken into regularly and their cars vandalized and property vandalized? How are you going to reassure them? On top of that, you've got 1,000 fewer police officers on the street. You've got an Attorney General who's going to look the other way on some crimes and you've got fewer police officers. Right now, in some divisions in Toronto there are only six uniformed officers on the night shift. How are the people of Toronto ever going to have any faith that your government is actually going to take these so-called small crimes seriously?

Hon Mr Runciman: The member is aware that the Metro police services are undergoing a recruitment drive at the moment; they're hiring somewhere in the neighbourhood of 300 new officers. We are very much committed to front-line policing; that's part of this whole exercise in terms of a review of policing to ensure we can have police officers on the front lines doing real policing work. We hope this process is going to move in that direction to take people away from duties I and most Ontarians would not consider front-line, and put them out there doing meaningful work. At the same time, I think there is a role for diversion programs and alternative dispute mechanisms. We just have to be certain, as we go through this process, that they are indeed appropriate -- not encouraging further acts of crime -- and enhancing public safety.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is also to the Solicitor General. A number of times now we've asked you why the police were not called in to investigate the allegations that young people within the care of your ministry were beaten and mistreated at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, and you've repeatedly said that the ministry protocol was followed because the OPP were investigating.

But OPP Inspector Jim Gordon has clarified that the force didn't have jurisdiction in Elgin-Middlesex, something I reminded you of some time ago. He said: "At the time of our investigation, we were interviewing [the teenaged] inmates as suspects, not victims. It's an entirely different approach." They were only investigating the riot at Bluewater.

You've tried to make this House and the public believe that the OPP were investigating both the Bluewater riot and the allegations of assault at Elgin-Middlesex, as per your ministry protocol, but it's now evident that the protocol was not followed at all. I ask you again, why were the London police, who do have jurisdiction, not called in to investigate the allegations of assault until May 31?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): As I've indicated to the honourable member with respect to the OPP investigation, I don't think there's any question they were called in there initially to look at the causes of the riot and to perhaps assess blame, and that has resulted in a number of charges being laid.

My conclusion with respect to that investigation, if you base it on comparable investigations where any police officer comes across the question of criminal activity, is that it's incumbent upon that officer or officers to pursue those matters. I've read the officer's comments with interest and we've asked for some elaboration on them.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, this whole thing becomes more peculiar and more unbelievable every time you stand up.

We've asked this question on numerous occasions, and you keep on defending this by saying the OPP were there. To use your own words, you said in this House on June 11: "...there was an OPP investigation. There are certainly questions that can arise now about that particular investigation, but to suggest that the procedure wasn't followed with respect to an investigation denies the fact that there was an investigation under way at the point...."

You can't hide behind that OPP investigation any longer. After all, you are the Solicitor General and you are responsible for the OPP. If they didn't do their job properly, you're still responsible. You can't hide from this. You're responsible as corrections minister for what happens to young people in the care of your ministry and you're responsible as Solicitor General for the lack of competence in the police investigation if these issues were not, as you suggest they should have been, looked into.

Your ministry officials didn't follow the ministry protocol to call the police regarding the allegations. Why were the London police not called in by at least someone down the line? Why didn't they check with the OPP to see whether they were investigating those allegations?

You simply are not in control of either side of your ministry, and every time we raise this issue you say something else that makes it clear. When are you going to resign?

Hon Mr Runciman: I think I've responded adequately to that question on numerous occasions.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Residents, teachers and board officials in my riding have expressed concern over the rise of gang activity in local schools. There have been a number of violent incidents involving gang members both in my riding and across Metro Toronto over the last several weeks. Minister, what steps are you encouraging to counter this growing trend in gang violence?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for Scarborough West for his excellent question. There have been some recent incidents of gang-related violence both in schools and outside schools across Ontario. This seems to be a trend that has been picked up from other jurisdictions in North America.

There are some very serious responses by various boards to this problem. As a matter of fact, the North York Board of Education recently received a report on ways to defuse gang violence in our schools. The report looked at ways of building on some programs that are already working in our schools and building on efforts of the various programs in our school system to combat violence of any type -- racism violence, gang violence -- and there are, as I'm sure you're aware, many programs that have been adopted in Ontario over the last few years to challenge this.

The number one ingredient in all these programs, and the report bears this out, is a high level of student involvement; that seems to be the core of the programs that help to prevent violence with young people.

I am confident, having talked to a great number of students, school boards and teachers across the province, that steps are being taken to curb violence and gang violence and that the safety of our young people, the number one responsibility of all people in our school system, is being addressed seriously.

Mr Jim Brown: A number of teachers and supervisory officers report that students are often hesitant to report criminal activities at school. This code of silence leads to situations where vicious assaults on students are going unreported. Minister, what steps are you taking to encourage students to act responsibly when faced with violence at school?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I recently attended a conference of Student Crime Stoppers at York University. Over the last month or so I had a chance to drop in and see the work that's being done with students, with the cooperation of students and by our law enforcement people who are directly involved in the schools and I can assure the honourable member that programs like Student Crime Stoppers go a long way to encourage young people to report crimes and incidents of violence and racism to the authorities and work hand in hand with the authorities to make sure those school environments are safe for everyone.

This is an excellent program, and I'm pleased to report that all the people in the school system, including law enforcement members who are in the school system on a regular basis, are participating with students to make reporting crimes a safe activity.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and relates to this government's plans to deregulate or self-regulate some important aspects of consumer protection having to do with everything from amusement parks to the upholstery people sit on, to elevating devices, boiler and pressure vessels, and so on. I want to ask the minister to tell the House today what his ministry seems to be hiding, which is the exact benchmark against which these new private entities will be measured. We have been told by the ministry that we can't get numbers on employees, convictions or, in general, the activity that's been taking place within the government. Yet this government proposes to take these private.

I wonder if the minister today would please bring to this House the activities against which this deregulation will be measured, including the amount of revenue and cost of this activity that he proposes to give to the private sector?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): As the member well knows, this afternoon a committee of this Legislature will be dealing with Bill 54, which is the very topic of this question. At that particular meeting there will be, along with me and my parliamentary assistant, many officials from my ministry who will be able to answer specific questions he or any other member of this House might have.

I want to emphasize, however, that there will be no deregulation contained in this bill or in this effort. It is a question of allowing other people to manage their own affairs with regard to their professions, as we have in 24 health-related professions in this province, as we have with the lawyers of this province, as we have with the engineers of this province, as we have with the accountants of this province. It's really an extension of a situation which is already there.

With regard to the safety organization to which he is referring, he will be able to get those specific answers when my officials are there at the committee this afternoon, if he should like to have them.

Mr Kennedy: I want to express my disappointment on behalf of the consumers in this province, because some suspicion is starting to stir about whether this government really has their interests at heart. That would be available to anyone in terms of the information that we do have in the public accounts, which suggests that the activities which are about to be given away to self-regulation cost the ministry approximately between $18 million and $20 million and yet bring to the government and the ministry approximately $27.8 million in revenue, for a giveaway of at least $7 million to $9 million.

I would ask you again, would you please tell us in this House why the government proposes to give away $7 million to $9 million of government revenue, and rather than doing better for less, we're going to get instead less for more? We're going to have less money for consumer protection. I would implore you to give an answer in front of this House today.

Hon Mr Sterling: The member is correct in one way: This particular initiative by the government is not fiscally driven; it is not driven by the government wanting to make or not make money with regard to these activities which the government presently performs. I believe the member's calculations are probably not accurate and are out by a considerable amount. In my estimate, it will be about a wash in terms of the revenue and the cost to government. That has been looked at by my government and will be embodied in some of the agreements we have with these particular organizations. We're doing this because we think it's better. We're not doing this because we expect to save or lose money. The amount of money on either side of the equation will be negligible with regard to the more important aspect of ensuring that consumers are better protected under the new scheme than they were under the old.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I will not have an opportunity to get a supplementary, so I'll try to do this in the one part. We know that tomorrow you're going to come to this Legislature, you're going to be delivering your discussion paper on what you call your tenant protection legislation or package. There are plenty of rumours within the tenant community of the province of Ontario that this package will contain many measures that will be pro-landlord and anti-tenant.

We clearly know that your government is on the side of big business, you're on the side of money. You've chosen sides quite clearly. You've said in choosing sides that you're going to protect landlords and you're going to forget tenants. We understand that part of the package, contained in it, is the whole question of vacancy decontrol. You intend in this package to say that if a tenant leaves and a landlord wants to raise his or her rent, you will allow the landlord to do so and that apartment unit will no longer be covered under rent control. You know as well as I that if you move to that kind of system, what you're doing is giving landlords a huge club. You will allow landlords to intimidate tenants, to get them out in order to be able to raise the rent.

I want you to put tenants at ease today, Minister. I would like you to assure tenants that your package will be reflected on and you will not come forward with vacancy decontrol. Can you tell us if that is your intention?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): What I can tell the member for Cochrane South is that we will be bringing a package forward for consultation that will make both landlords and tenants happy.

What we know is that the system we have at the present time doesn't work. It doesn't work for landlords; it doesn't work for tenants. We have to fix it; we intend to fix it. We intend to give everybody an opportunity to have input into that process and we'll be bringing it forward within a matter of hours.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We are dealing with two deferred votes from previous days. Call in the members. It will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1537 to 1542.


Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 52, An Act to promote resource development, conservation and environmental protection through the streamlining of regulatory processes and the enhancement of compliance measures in the Aggregate and Petroleum Industries / Projet de loi 52, Loi visant à promouvoir la mise en valeur des ressources, la conservation ainsi que la protection de l'environnement en simplifiant les processus de réglementation et en renforçant les mesures de conformité dans l'industrie pétrolière et l'industrie des agrégats.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Will the members take their seats, please. We're dealing with second reading of Bill 52 standing in the name of Mr Hodgson. All those in favour will please rise one at a time until your name is recognized.



Baird, John R.

Hastings, John

Parker, John L.


Barrett, Toby

Hodgson, Chris

Pettit, Trevor


Bassett, Isabel

Hudak, Tim

Preston, Peter


Beaubien, Marcel

Jackson, Cameron

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Ross, Lillian

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Runciman, Bob

Carr, Gary

Johnson, David

Sampson, Rob

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Saunderson, William

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, Leo

Shea, Derwyn

Clement, Tony

Kells, Morley

Sheehan, Frank

Cunningham, Dianne

Klees, Frank

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Snobelen, John

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Spina, Joseph

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Sterling, Norman W.

Eves, Ernie L.

Maves, Bart

Stockwell, Chris

Fisher, Barbara

Munro, Julia

Tascona, Joseph N.

Flaherty, Jim

Murdoch, Bill

Tilson, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Mushinski, Marilyn

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Villeneuve, Noble

Galt, Doug

North, Peter

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Gilchrist, Steve

O'Toole, John

Wilson, Jim

Grimmett, Bill

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Hardeman, Ernie

Palladini, Al


The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time until your name is called.


Agostino, Dominic

Grandmaître, Bernard

McLeod, Lyn

Bisson, Gilles

Gravelle, Michael

Morin, Gilles E.

Boyd, Marion

Hampton, Howard

Patten, Richard

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Phillips, Gerry

Brown, Michael A.

Kormos, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles

Caplan, Elinor

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Cooke, David S.

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Cordiano, Joseph

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley


Curling, Alvin

Martin, Tony


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 71, the nays are 34.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Resources committee.

The Speaker: The resources committee? Agreed? Agreed.


Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of Bill 47, An Act to cut taxes, to stimulate economic growth and to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget / Projet de loi 47, Loi visant à réduire les impôts, à stimuler la croissance économique et à mettre en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1996.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Now we're dealing with second reading of Bill 47, standing in the name of Mr Eves. The same vote?


The Speaker: A five-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1546 to 1551.

The Speaker: All members take their seats. We are dealing with second reading of Bill 47, standing in the name of Mr Eves. Will the members rise until their name is called, one at a time.



Baird, John R.

Hastings, John

Parker, John L.


Barrett, Toby

Hodgson, Chris

Pettit, Trevor


Bassett, Isabel

Hudak, Tim

Preston, Peter


Beaubien, Marcel

Jackson, Cameron

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Runciman, Bob

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Sampson, Rob

Carr, Gary

Johnson, David

Saunderson, William

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Shea, Derwyn

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, Leo

Sheehan, Frank

Clement, Tony

Kells, Morley

Skarica, Toni

Cunningham, Dianne

Klees, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Snobelen, John

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Spina, Joseph

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Sterling, Norman W.

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Stockwell, Chris

Eves, Ernie L.

Maves, Bart

Tascona, Joseph N.

Fisher, Barbara

Munro, Julia

Tilson, David

Flaherty, Jim

Murdoch, Bill

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Galt, Doug

North, Peter

Wilson, Jim

Gilchrist, Steve

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Grimmett, Bill

Ouellette, Jerry J.


Hardeman, Ernie

Palladini, Al


The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Agostino, Dominic

Grandmaître, Bernard

McLeod, Lyn

Bisson, Gilles

Gravelle, Michael

Morin, Gilles E.

Boyd, Marion

Hampton, Howard

Patten, Richard

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Phillips, Gerry

Brown, Michael A.

Kormos, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles

Caplan, Elinor

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Cooke, David S.

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Cordiano, Joseph

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley


Curling, Alvin

Martin, Tony


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 70, the nays are 34.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Committee of the whole House.

The Speaker: Committee of the whole? Agreed.



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ontario government has a duty and responsibility to provide driver exam centres across the province;

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation has decided to close the Leamington driver exam centre despite the fact that:

"(1) The Leamington centre is the only exam office between Windsor and Chatham thus forcing persons and local driver training schools to travel over 50 kilometres in order to obtain a driver exam;

"(2) The Leamington Centre serves a population of over 35,000;

"(3) There already exists a six-month waiting list for driver exams in Leamington; and

"(4) The MTO did not consult with the local community;

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, demand that the MTO explore every option of retaining driver examinations in the Leamington area, and that the MTO postpone the closing of the present DEC site until a new solution is formulated."

I affix my signature in support of this.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition signed by over 700 people within the Metro area and endorsed by Anna-Marie Goralczyk, who is here today in the gallery to hear me read this petition. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it asks people to sign the petition on child abuse and the CAS. It says:

"Family courts should hear applications of `Child in Need of Protection from the CAS.' CASs should report to police all abuses in foster care. The public should be informed to report child abuse to the police, who would be assisted by CAS in appropriate situations. CASs should be safe homes, answerable to the police and not investigating crime, avoiding abuse handling internally.

"Parents shouldn't be denied equal evaluation of evidence or forced to communicate with CAS in ways that remove that equality, in case the CAS's mandate and protocols shift from the best interests of the child to themselves due to abuses in care.

"The police should react when CASs obstruct justice, tamper with evidence, use coercion and be in control of the registrar of abuse. A safe home should be organized for children who've been abused in care, access and therapy prohibited to CAS. When short of police, enlargements should be made to youth bureaus instead of handing the investigations to CASs, to avoid CASs investigating themselves.

"Official guardians (government child lawyers) should present evidence from the child only and not rely on submissions of the CAS. Children should be free to choose an attorney, and not forced counsel by official guardians against his/her will.

"It should be illegal for CAS to threaten permanent separation because a parent doesn't want to sign for extended care when a period of two years results in the parent losing custody, regardless of the facts.... A group able to act should oversee that CASs don't put parents in humanly/legally impossible positions.

"CASs shouldn't force instruction on child therapists. Family court judges shouldn't rely on therapy reports as mini-judgements and should consider evidence of persons other than the CAS network.

"The police should recognize webs of victims in organizations that may tend to protect their own. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has favoured freedom of the press. General media and publication of names of dangerous persons should be practised, including CAS employees.

"CASs should report statistics of abuse in foster care and percentages of charges/convictions.

"The CAS should give clear, justifiable reasons in writing to parents for enforcing permanent family separation, silence/inaction not being an option.

"CASs should assist families who suffer aftermath of sexual abuse, regardless if charges are laid."

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition on behalf of the member for Don Mills, to the Parliament of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the present Condominium Act of Ontario does not give the condominium corporations the legal right to limit the number of people who occupy each unit in the complex, thus causing overcrowding situations in many buildings; and

"Whereas this overcrowding creates excessive demands on services and facilities of the condominiums, leading to tensions, violence, fire and health problems, increased maintenance expenses, and depreciation of values;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"We strongly recommend that the Condominium Act of Ontario be amended to give the condominium corporations, through their own rules and regulations, the legal right to limit the number of persons per unit and a `right of entry' to ensure adherence to the rules;

"The right of condominium owners and taxpayers must be considered and supported in order to alleviate this inequitable situation."



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My petition reads as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has clearly indicated that it `wants to get out of the housing business'; and

"Whereas the Ontario government is reviewing the legal contracts and budgets of every co-op housing project in the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has announced plans to make huge cuts to co-op and non-profit housing funding; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to replace affordable housing with subsidies to private landlords; and

"Whereas co-op housing is a proven success in providing affordable homes owned and managed by the people who live in them; and

"Whereas the actions of the Ontario government threaten to destroy stable, well-maintained communities which have been built over the last quarter of a century and the investment all Ontarians have made in this type of affordable social housing;

"We, the undersigned, request that the Ontario government sit down with the co-op housing sector to negotiate a deal which will ensure the long-term financial viability of housing co-ops and the continuance of rent-geared-to-income assistance upon which thousands of co-op members depend and which will promote greater responsibility for administration by the co-op housing sector and less interference by the government in day-to-day operations of housing co-ops."

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have a petition from a number of concerned taxpayers. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government has clearly indicated that it `wants to get out of the housing business'; and

"Whereas the Ontario government is reviewing the legal contracts and budgets of every co-op housing project in the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has announced plans to make huge cuts to co-op and non-profit housing funding; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to replace affordable housing with subsidies to private landlords; and

"Whereas co-op housing is a proven success in providing affordable homes owned and managed by the people who live in them; and

"Whereas the actions of the Ontario government threaten to destroy stable, well-maintained communities which have been built over the last quarter of a century and the investment all Ontarians have made in this type of affordable social housing;

"We, the undersigned, request that the Ontario government sit down with the co-op housing sector to negotiate a deal which will ensure the long-term financial viability of housing co-ops and the continuance of rent-geared-to-income assistance upon which thousands of co-op members depend and which will promote greater responsibility for administration by the co-op housing sector and less interference by the government in the day-to-day operations of housing co-ops."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I have a petition that reads:

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear-hunting activities."

I too affix my signature to this.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition sent to me by Agnes Skinner, a constituent of mine who is very concerned about the potential privatization of Ontario Hydro and what that might mean in terms of higher rates. The petition reads:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the matter of selling Ontario Hydro is likely to come before the Legislature in the near future; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned residents of Ontario, who have through the payment of electricity rates paid for Ontario Hydro, are concerned about privatization of Ontario Hydro leading to higher rates, lower reliability and compromised nuclear safety;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"Please preserve the public ownership of Ontario Hydro and refuse to sell this important public asset."

I'm pleased to sign my name to the petition.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm pleased to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned parents and taxpayers of Essex Street public school, wish to inform the Honourable John Snobelen, Minister of Education, that we are in strong opposition to any forced or voluntary transfer of educational tax dollars to the province.

"We are aware that Metro Toronto has already received a budget cut of over $75 million with a loss of 300 teachers. We are concerned that any transfer of tax dollars will cause further cuts, which will dramatically affect the classroom.

"In addition, we would like to inform the Minister of Education that we strongly support junior kindergarten programs because they have a positive influence on children in the community.

"We also view adult education as essential to the wellbeing of our community."

I agree with this petition and I've affixed my name to it.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition regarding child care. It is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and reads:

"Whereas the Ministry of Community and Social Services is undertaking a review of the child care system in Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, do petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to restore stability and balance to the child care system by:

"(1) ensuring that all licensed child care providers are treated equally with all sectors having both the same benefits and responsibilities;

"(2) ensuring that all licensed child care centre staff receive the same benefits from the government, specifically the wage enhancement grants, regardless of the status of their employer;

"(3) ensuring that all funding goes directly to the provision of care for children and families in need."

I affix my signature to this petition of 61 signatures.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario regarding the teachers' and citizens' petition regarding Bill 31, An Act to establish the Ontario College of Teachers.

"Whereas the Ontario Legislature is currently debating Bill 31, An Act to establish the Ontario College of Teachers and to make related amendments to certain statutes; and

"Whereas section 4 of this legislation sets up the college's governing council in a manner designed to prevent ordinary teachers from forming a majority; and

"Whereas section 12 gives the Minister of Education draconian powers to override the will of the elected governing council; and

"Whereas sections 33 and 34 give college investigators the right to enter teachers' workplaces and homes, by force if necessary, to search for `something relevant' to charges against teachers; and

"Whereas section 28 gives the college's discipline committee power to revoke teacher certification and assess fines of up to $5,000 plus legal costs; and

"Whereas, under section 52, a teacher unjustly accused of professional incompetence would have no rights to undertake legal action against the college, even if it was shown to have neglected or defaulted in the performance of its duties; and

"Whereas section 53 makes Ontario teachers retroactively responsible for all expenses incurred in establishing the college since April 1, 1994, plus interest; and

"Whereas this bill contains many other provisions too numerous to mention which are an insult to the professionalism of Ontario teachers, who will be forced without their consent to pay for the College of Teachers;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the government of Ontario to withdraw Bill 31 and to undertake a sincere process of consultation with Ontario teachers prior to reintroduction of another such bill."

I affix my signature as I'm in agreement with this petition.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition that is signed by residents of both the ridings of Sudbury East and Windsor-Riverside. It reads as follows:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith;

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years;

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I affix my signature to the petitions, and I agree entirely with the petitioners.



Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas the present Condominium Act of Ontario does not give the condominium corporations the legal right to limit the number of people who occupy each unit in the complex, thus causing overcrowded situations in many buildings; and

"Whereas this overcrowding creates excessive demand on services and facilities of the condominiums, leading to tensions, violence, fire and health problems, increased maintenance expenses and depreciation of values;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"We strongly recommend that the Condominium Act of Ontario be amended to give condominium corporations, through their own rules and regulations, the legal right to limit the number of persons per unit and a right of entry to ensure adherence to the rules.

"The rights of condominium owners and taxpayers must be considered and supported in order to alleviate this inequitable situation."

I'm very happy to support this petition.



Mr Barrett from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the committee's first report, 1996.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I am pleased to present this report on regulations filed during most of 1994 and all of 1995 in accordance with the committee's terms of reference as contained in the Regulations Act and the standing orders. The committee is required to examine regulations, to consider the scope and method of the exercise of regulation-making power, but not the underlying policies or legislative objectives.

I would particularly like to acknowledge the work done by the lawyers of the legislative research service, who served as counsel to the committee and who conducted the initial examination of over 1,200 regulations.



Mrs Elliott moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 76, An Act to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act / Projet de loi 76, Loi visant à améliorer la protection de l'environnement, à accroître l'obligation de rendre des comptes et à intégrer la consultation publique à la Loi sur les évaluations environnementales.

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): This government is committed to an environmental assessment process that is accessible, workable and focused on environmental protection. Towards this end, I introduced Bill 76, the Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act, on June 13.

During the past 20 years, Ontario has gained invaluable experience with the environmental assessment process. One thing that has been made clear is the need to modernize EA and to make it more workable for everyone involved. Heartaches of unresolved and uncertain processes have extended to all parts of the province over the past few years. Even previous governments have recognized the need. In fact, several elements of what you'll find in the Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act were generated under such efforts as the environmental assessment program improvement project.

Bill 76 is long overdue. Previous governments have delivered administrative reforms. They were helpful, but they did not go far enough. They didn't address what's really wrong with the environmental assessment process in Ontario. Unworkability is what is wrong with the current process and must be changed. Here are some examples: In my riding, the Guelph-Wellington waste management process has taken 12 years and cost $4 million, with no decision; the timber management class EA spent four and a half years in hearings and cost $20 million before a decision was made; the Ontario Waste Management Corp took 15 years and $145 million, only to be rejected.

The main goal of our reforms is to reach the most environmentally protective decision. This means getting to "yes" quicker for environmentally sound projects and to "no" quicker for environmentally harmful projects. We believe these changes will be a great relief to communities under the shadow of protracted and expensive environmental assessments.

In these reforms we are going to ensure that our harmonization proposals result in the best environmental protection. Let me point out that our goal is one environmental assessment for one project. Multiple assessments cost more, take longer and do not provide better environmental protection.

We are working towards an agreement with the federal government on harmonized environmental assessments, as are other provinces. When we work with another jurisdiction, we will be able to use the best features of both processes, and of course the other jurisdiction has just as much at stake as we have in protecting the environment.

Under these amendments, the minister retains the power to refer an environmental assessment to the Environmental Assessment Board for public hearings. By focusing the issues and providing strict time lines, the amendments will make for more timely and cost-effective public hearings. In this way ministers will be confident that when they send a project before the board, the contentious environmental issues will be the focus of the hearing and the board can reach an appropriate decision quickly.

Alternatives will be addressed under the new process. Let me assure my colleagues that these reforms commit to a full environmental assessment. The requirement to consider project rationale and alternatives remains.

I believe, importantly, that in establishing the terms of reference for a project, there will be an opportunity for the first time for all affected stakeholders to comment on the scope and on the level of detail being proposed for the environmental assessment right at the beginning of the project. The further approval by the minister ensures appropriate accountability as a project begins.

I look forward to the committee hearings on Bill 76 and I hope the members in this House share my concerns for carrying forward these long overdue reforms.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments?

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I'm pleased to respond to the Minister of Environment and Energy's statement about Bill 76. Certainly this bill is long overdue. The Environmental Assessment Act has been very difficult for many municipalities and private industry to deal with in the past. I'm very pleased to see it being brought forward at this time.

Certainly during the campaign in my area it was mentioned many times over, the frustration they were having, particularly in Northumberland county, of trying to get on with a landfill site. It was costing in the neighbourhood of $2 million and they just were not winning and not getting anywhere. They were going back, looking at alternatives over and over again, and these are dollars being spent for really very little purpose at all. You can repeat that story with Peterborough county in eastern Ontario, with Kingston. All have spent a tremendous amount of money in accomplishing nothing.

As one individual commented to us on going out and looking at all the possible sites within the jurisdiction, it's like going out on a lake to go fishing and if you want to catch a certain fish, you have to catch all of them in the lake, look them over, throw everything back except the one you want to keep and then on you go. That's the ridiculous point we've found ourselves in with this particular bill, that we're just spending horrendous quantities of time, money and effort and really not getting very many landfill sites or many projects approved in general.

Certainly this act will modernize and will streamline and make things happen a whole lot faster than has occurred in the past. Working with the federal government and harmonizing, as other provinces are doing, will be consistent with the improvements of this particular act and I, for one, along with minister, look forward to the hearings this summer to see the opinions of the public of Ontario.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the comments of the Minister of Environment and Energy on this particular matter. I'm somewhat surprised she chose to run out of the chamber when the member for Northumberland stood up.

Nevertheless, I want to say that there need to be some changes in the Environmental Assessment Act. There obviously have been some problems, but I look at some of the problems, as the member for Northumberland articulates, some difficulties in the siting of landfills in my constituency. Certainly the process has not been part of the solution -- I would agree with him there -- but one of the things I'm finding some difficulty with at this present time is, if we look at the situation of Little Current-Howland, for example, they've gone through this very arduous process to site a landfill. It has taken years and years.

They now have identified a site, but they are now in the situation that they are looking for funding to both close the present site and open the new site. They've been bumped down the list, I believe, two years in a row, and in my opinion they have not much prospect of solving a problem that has been a problem for those municipalities for quite a considerable length of time, because the government will not live up to the commitments for funding that had been made over the years. While I think this may help, I am concerned that the funding isn't there to actually address the problems.

More importantly, I think I'm concerned -- I know I'm concerned -- particularly with the lack of standards. We need to know what the standards will be under this new act.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I am delighted to speak on this bill, Bill 76, and I am delighted to see that the throngs have assembled to hear my address in the Legislature today. I am sure that once they begin to hear my address, they will take note and we will have a greater assemblage here of members at some point in time.

Mr Michael Brown: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Lawrence deserves to have a quorum in this place. I don't believe there's a quorum present.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): Speaker, a quorum is not present.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: Speaker, a quorum is now present.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Lawrence.

Mr Cordiano: I am sure the members opposite would greatly appreciate listening to what the members of the opposition have to say on various bills, but more importantly, I would have hoped the minister would have sat in her place to listen to what members of the opposition had to say about her legislation. I'm a little disappointed the minister is not here.

Mr Speaker, before I carry on with my address, I would like to ask for consent to apportion part of the time that would remain in this leadoff to the member for St Catharines should that time not be used by myself.

The Deputy Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Cordiano: Let me begin to talk about Bill 76, which is a very important piece of legislation that we are considering today. Let me start by saying that we cannot allow environmental neglect to affect the health of individuals and communities around this province. I might add that when it comes to the environment, there's a relationship between a healthy environment and indeed a healthy economy and the health of all citizens.

Let's not forget that when we address the question of the environment we are talking about a number of things. We're talking about a safer environment for the health of the people of this province and we're also talking about a healthier economy. Lest we forget, ultimately we must consider that if there is not a healthy environment then we all suffer, we all pay the price.

What are we talking about when we talk about a healthier environment? We're talking about cleaner air. We're talking about safer drinking water. We're talking about better soil for the agriculture industry and for everyone to share. We're concerned about contamination of the soil. We're talking about concerns with respect to waste management, land use, the consumption of agricultural land; that is to say, the loss of agricultural land to urban sprawl and development.

In all of these things we must always have a proper consideration for the environment that is balanced against the need for greater economic development and the consideration for a healthy, safe environment. When we're talking about cleaner air, let's concern ourselves with what's actually taking place in southern Ontario: the fact that we have a chronic smog problem and it continues unabated. We know what the consequences are of the smog problem. It results in greater respiratory problems for people and animals, and it results in millions and millions of dollars worth of crop damage to Ontario farmers. It's not something to gloss over.

What about drinking water in countless communities out there? I say to the backbenchers on the government's side that many communities face difficulties with respect to drinking water. I'm not suggesting that this problem resulted from your government's administration in the last number of months; it's been a problem for some time.

In 1994 the auditor reported in his findings that the drinking water and the sewage effluent in some communities were not meeting Ministry of Environment and Energy guidelines, and that's a concern for many people.

What I am saying, and will say repeatedly throughout my address, is that it is government's responsibility to ensure that those guidelines are maintained and meet our requirements.

Soil contamination: The proposed new minimum standards for soil cleanup are of concern because they are minimum standards and this government has moved not to subject new landfill sites to mandatory EA hearings. That is of concern to us.

Waste management: In the terms of reference we're talking about there must be agreement on contentious issues. There is a mediation process that takes place. The real consideration there is: What if there is no agreement? What if there are no terms of reference agreed to by communities and proponents? What happens in those instances? Is there an agreement that's forced upon both parties? There's no discussion of that. I did not hear the minister address that and the legislation's not clear about that process. So we have concerns about that.


We believe that procedural reform is necessary, very much part and parcel of what we believe has to be made more efficient and more effective around environmental hearings. There is no question that there have been colossal errors made in the past which have resulted in huge waste and inefficiency -- the endless hearings, the search for sites. The minister cited in her opening remarks some of those communities. That needs to be resolved. There's no question we have to move forward. There's no question that more could be done and needed to be done to reform this process. So we are not in disagreement. But at what expense -- we ask that question without knowing the answer -- to the environment if standards are lowered? We have concerns that the standards being set are not sufficient. So therefore we analyse this with a great deal of caution. Many people have come forward to suggest that those minimum standards will not be enough. I'll say more about that in a moment.

The legislation also ties the hands of the Environmental Assessment Board members. The board's ability to review environmentally significant projects is severely limited, and that's a concern for us. The board will no longer be able to independently review environmentally significant projects on their own entirely. Again, their latitude to do so has been severely limited by these amendments.

Mandatory consultation: Well, we agree with that. Of course we agree with that. We want input from the public and that is something that we have to support and will continue to support. But, at the same time, what has this government done? They've cut intervenor funding quite severely. So where does that leave groups out there in the community to be able to effectively make their case before the board? It's certainly not acceptable that the government on the one hand says, "We believe in consulting people; we believe in consulting as widely as possible," and then by the same token does not make funding available to the very groups who have to make representations before the board.

We're talking about the environment; we're talking about areas in which expertise is required. We're not talking about the kind of matters that can be easily understood without having some guidance, without having some groups who understand the environment and can bring to bear their expertise. That's why originally intervenor funding was provided, because it allowed for people to access those experts who were necessary to make possible public representation in a fulsome way, to make it possible that communities and groups out there and individuals would be more educated about what was taking place in environmentally complex areas. The environment, I would add, is a complex area to understand in its full breadth and scope. So intervenor funding is something that should be looked at very carefully by this government, and to have pulled that back and to suggest that there is public consultation while at the same time cutting funding is unacceptable, because it rings hollow; it's a vacuous promise.

Landfill sites: There's no requirement that communities must be willing to be hosts of another community's waste. There's no obligation under this act. I might add that when the government was in opposition they said, "No community that is unwilling to do so will be obligated to take another community's garbage." What essentially is happening under this legislation is there is no consideration, there's no obligation. That's fine, but by the same token there is no other process in place to ensure that a landfill site comes into existence to take care of the problem. The very problem that we are addressing, that this legislation proposes to address, may end up being the problem in the future, because there isn't a well-defined process that is easily understood at this point in time.

It goes on to say, "No region can transport its waste to another municipality in the province without a resolution of the recipient municipality indicating that it is a `willing host' for such waste." That's what the government said when it brought forward an opposition day motion on December 4, 1990, and I'd like to repeat that: "This House therefore calls upon the Minister of the Environment to provide that...no region can transport its waste to another municipality in the province without a resolution of the recipient municipality indicating that it is a `willing host' for such waste."

It is very clear where the government stood prior to the election and it is not so clear now. A resolution would have been required. There is no resolution required now, so we're not sure what the minister will do. This legislation gives the minister the authority to deal with this process that isn't very clear and gives the minister unusual powers to move in that regard.

I continue to make the case that we have concerns with respect to this legislation that go beyond what is being proposed, precisely because we're not certain of the outcomes. We're not certain that this process would streamline the environmental assessment hearings and result in a resolution within a timely period and would not result in hidden costs to the environment and to those communities that are affected. Ultimately, we want to make sure that when the minister deals with this, the minister is not acting arbitrarily and without due regard for what has gone on in that particular community.

The new process also -- and I'd like to deal with this for a moment -- deals with the fact that a proponent must put forward terms of reference which define the environmental issues around contaminants, noise and leachate. As I said earlier, there is a mediation process if the terms of reference are not agreed to by both the proponent and the community.

Finally, to reiterate this, the minister seeks public input on the terms of reference and then would approve the document. Contentious issues can be set out for 60 days of mediation, and that is where the problem lies, because if there is no agreement, one wonders what would follow. Would the minister intervene and act in an arbitrary fashion or a unilateral fashion and bring a forced resolution on the two parties?

If there is, however, an agreement on the terms of reference, the proponent would prepare an EA document and consult with interested persons. The EA document is submitted to the ministry. The public and any interested government agencies can submit comments but only for a period of up to 60 days, and then send the EA document for an Environmental Assessment Board hearing.


The minister, however, will only allow the EA board to examine issues that are deemed to be contentious and the minister will assign that time line -- as I say, an example might be three months. The board does not have the power to examine any issues not assigned by the minister. The EA board or the public cannot appeal the minister's decision.

That gives the minister unprecedented powers, unilateral powers, to deal with this matter, and I thought we were in a sense trying to get away from decisions that are made in the absence of community input, in the absence of a particular community deciding what was in its interests. This government has spoken many times about the single taxpayer, and I'll talk about this in a moment, has spoken many times about the interests of various communities across this province, and one wonders if they have the true interests of communities and individuals at heart.

We sit here in the Legislature and examine what this government is attempting to do, and ultimately you can't help but be cynical with respect to what a government says it intends to do and then what it ends up doing. On some of the major issues with respect to budgetary items, this government has brought forward its budget and has gone through with some of its agenda. But let's talk about the environment. Let's talk about areas in which this government, I believe, does not have the true interests of communities at heart nor the true interests of Ontarians at heart.

The environment is one of those areas which will be sacrificed by this government. Why? Because they believe the environment is not important, that in fact, in order to have a sound economy and to have a relinquishing of the regulatory burden, they must dismantle the regulatory process that was in place, the regulatory regime. We're seeing evidence of that each and every day, as this government brings forward legislation to amend, to alter, to dismantle the regulatory systems, the regulatory authority that was in place.

I would again say to the government, there was a need for reform, but we wonder if we can be confident about a government that would sacrifice the regulatory regime so much so in order for what it believes is the correct course of action on the economy, that is, to have a regulatory regime which is not necessarily only streamlined but also dismantled -- because there is a difference. There is a difference between having a regulatory regime which is efficient and effective and one which is simply a pale image of what was there before, an infant, an orphan of what was there before.

I suspect that's where we'll end up with this particular government. We're becoming cognizant of its true intention. They believe the road to nirvana, economic salvation, is to dismantle the regulatory regime in every way conceivable. They do not believe it is that regulatory regime which permits us to have a proper balance between concerns for the environment, concerns for individuals' health, concerns for really what amounts to a sound economy, based on good regulatory provisions, regulatory processes, a regulatory regime which takes into consideration all of those things.

Ultimately the people of this province are willing, the good people that they are right across this province, to give this government an opportunity to bring forward its agenda. But it is our job as the opposition to stand in our places and to continually point out the inconsistencies, the errors and the omissions, and that's what we're attempting to do with this piece of legislation.

We have in the Minister of Environment someone who, shall we say, is less than concerned about some of the issues I raise here today. I cannot understand how a Minister of Environment could say on the one hand that she's concerned about smog, pollution and the quality of our air, and on the other suggest she would never take public transit, or rarely would she take it, or even consider taking it because her schedule's too busy.

That's not good enough. A Minister of Environment should by example -- even if that was a slipup. I understand the minister is a new member to this Legislature, but she's been in office for almost a year now as a minister and certainly one could not have anticipated those kinds of remarks from the minister in the last couple of months. It sets the tone. It sets the tone for members of the opposition, for members of the public, to then wonder about the true intentions of the Minister of Environment who gives short shrift to considerations around public transit.

On the one hand, you have the Minister of Environment who says: "I won't take public transit. My schedule's too busy. I've got to have a car and a driver at all times." That's understandable. We're all busy in this Legislature and ministers are particularly busy. But by the same token, is it the right thing to say about public transit that it is not effective and efficient and that it would be beneath her to take that same system that many Ontarians have to use each and every day?

You have the Minister of Environment on the one hand, as I say, and then you have the famous, or shall I say the infamous Minister of Transportation, who on his advent of becoming Minister of Transportation for this province said that he'd -- what was it he said? He said something about huskies and a dogsled and: "What? Do you expect me to come down from Highway 7 by dogsled? I've got to have a car and a driver, a chauffeur available to me at all times." He certainly has not upheld the reputation of a fine institution like the TTC, which his current colleague the former boss of the TTC, who sits close to him in the House, was a champion of, if I recall correctly. Certainly the TTC should not be spoken about by a minister of the crown of this government, particularly a Minister of Transportation who I would expect to have a greater understanding of the pressures that we face and the people of this province face.

My Lord, all you need to do is travel our 400 series highways on any weekend and any time during the week -- it doesn't even have to be rush hour; it can be at any time during the week, any time during the day or on weekends -- and find what a tremendous amount of traffic there is on these 400 series highways. Travelling from Toronto to Hamilton is almost a bumper-to-bumper affair now. It is not acceptable that we have a Minister of Transportation who does not give his full support to public transit, a government that is paying short shrift to public transit.

This government, once it's cutting the funding for rapid transit, cutting the funding for all those subway lines which were supposed to be built, one questions what level of commitment it truly has to both public transit and therefore the environment, because one is linked to the other. You cannot have an improvement in the quality of air around this province if we don't recognize that we need to have a greater commitment to public transit.


It's not good enough that the Minister of Transportation -- I was going to say the minister of highways because the only thing he seems to believe in these days is to get out there and fill potholes. While we want potholes to be dealt with, it's not good enough that we have a Minister of Transportation who does not believe in public transit, who would not make the case at the cabinet table along with his colleague, the Minister of Environment and Energy, to make a more solid commitment to rapid transit, public transportation. How in the world are we ever going to deal with the smog problems and the concerns around air quality? I don't understand how that cannot be a consideration for both those ministers.

The problems around air quality are getting worse, not better. Yes, it has been successive governments. Yes, there is overflow smog from the US. It's not something that this government created alone, but this government is giving us no confidence that it is prepared to deal with this problem in a consistent fashion. One would suggest that they will take this problem on, take it seriously, take it with a great deal more commitment than they have shown to date --

Mr Galt: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We happen to be debating Bill 76. The discussion and the comments that have been made in the last five minutes have nothing to do with Bill 76. I wonder if the person making the presentation might consider getting on topic.

The Deputy Speaker: I've been listening attentively. He is discussing the environment, the air, and I see nothing out of order.

Mr Cordiano: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm glad to see that somebody's awake. I was beginning to get worried that people weren't listening to me attentively, and I'm glad to see someone is. I'm glad to see that.

Where was I? I was making progress on my efforts to dismantle this government while I talk about that they dismantled the regulatory regime around the environment.

This government's Minister of Environment has not lived up to the standard, shall we say, of previous ministers of the environment. I believe there is one previous Minister of the Environment who's sitting in the House right now. Yes, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Yes, indeed.

Mr Michael Brown: Bring back Morley. We're campaigning for you, Morley.

Mr Cordiano: It brings back memories. Those were the days of Progressive Conservative governments, unlike what we're seeing today in this assemblage across the aisle. You're more reminiscent of the Family Compact than Progressive Conservative governments, and, I might add, you have a problem with distinguishing, when someone observes what is taking place in this Legislature, between yourselves and another party on the right, a federal party. I just caution you that you are beginning to lose your identity. We'll have to call you a Reform Party in short order.

But getting back to the environment and getting back to the Environmental Assessment Act, again I would say to members opposite that we are in favour of streamlining, making more efficient and more effective the procedures around environmental assessment hearings. The entire process needed to be revamped and reformed, but there is no doubt that there are gaps and inconsistencies in this bill which concern a great many people. There are gaps, and I will reiterate what I said earlier. I will reiterate for the members new landfill and site decontamination standards.

We're concerned that minimum requirements will be basic and will not be enough to overcome or stem the concerns that have been expressed by many groups out there.

When you take away intervenor funding -- I repeat for the members the concerns we have -- it does not make it possible to have good, solid public input that would result in a true public consultation process which is meaningful for people and for communities. We want to make sure that groups have the kind of input that is necessary. The expertise involved with environmental considerations is of a high order. This is not to suggest that groups out there, or your average citizen, have not become more knowledgeable about the environment; certainly that is not the case. But some of these areas are very complex and require additional assistance. If you have a community liaison group that is working within this process, I suggest to the government, in order for it to be a meaningful process you must have that intervenor funding. The amount that has been cut is quite severe and would not suffice.

Another consideration around this -- the minister said this in her opening remarks -- was the effort to harmonize the Environmental Assessment Act provincially with the federal act. That is on the surface an appropriate thing to do. However, as has been pointed out, some groups are concerned that the federal environmental process is a much weaker process than the provincial one and that the minimum would therefore fall to the federal minimum and maybe even below that. We're seeing here a lowering of minimum standards and we are concerned that those standards are not sufficient. Ultimately people will decide.

The character of this government is revealing itself around this question of the environment and around other questions as they move to dismantle governmental operations, the regulatory framework that's been in place and built up over many years by previous administrations, by previous Progressive Conservative governments that have made it possible to have some of the finest environmental processes in place. To have a framework which from successive generations was built upon, to have the kind of quality we have in terms of the environment should not be overlooked by this administration.

I say that to the previous Minister of the Environment, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, whose government in those days, the Bill Davis government, was also responsible for increasing the level of concern around the environment and the amount of consideration for the environment through the regulatory framework that was established in those days.

We get to this government in this day and age, and I believe this government thinks it is living in a different era when people were not concerned about the environment. It is not one of those issues which registers with voters at the top of their priority list. I tell you, you're making a big mistake, because as this question becomes a concern around health and around how we do business in this province, the fact is that when people are concerned about their health, they will once again be concerned about questions surrounding the environment. It's the smog that we see in our cities and it's the concern around clean water, safe drinking water that has brought the attention to the forefront in terms of priority issues.


Now, we went through a difficult time in the economy and therefore people turned their attention to the economy, but let's not overlook the fact that the environment can be a sound harbinger of economic growth, can work in harmony with economic considerations. Considerations around environmental concerns need not come at the expense of economic growth, or vice versa.

I say to the government it needs to have a different approach when these considerations are coming forward. The gaps, the inconsistencies in the legislation need to be pointed out time and again, because we are concerned that at the end of the day the minister will end up with unilateral powers superseding those of communities, disregarding a true consultation process, disregarding and overriding a true hearings process which would permit real public input of the kind we had in the past.

The need for reform is essential, but let us not forget that it should not come at the expense of standards which are acceptable to every community, which are acceptable to every citizen in this province, and do not come at their expense with respect to their own health and safeguards in the environment for water and air.

I would again like to point out that on so many fronts this government has taken the axe to the regulatory framework. As I said earlier, they are dismantling that regulatory framework because this is a government that believes in doing less for less. This is a government that is not doing more for less, as they would like to suggest. Time and again we have seen that this government is prepared to take the axe to every ministry, every budget within those ministries, and forsaking a number of considerations around what is appropriate, what is necessary, what is the level of standards that need to be maintained, they're doing less for less.

I pointed out the other day a case of one of my constituents who happens to be disabled who was let go by the Ministry of Housing. This person is now facing the situation where he's being forced on to welfare. He was a contributing member of our society who had worked for the people of this province for so many years. He was a diligent worker, had given much to the people of this province, and this is this government's idea of making things more efficient and more effective. To push someone on to welfare, someone who had a decent job, who was contributing -- that's their idea of making things more efficient. That's their idea: adding to the welfare rolls.

My concern is that this government is moving with lightning speed to dismantle the regulatory framework and leaving a whole host of victims in its wake. Why should the people of this province have faith in this government in these very critical and vital areas? Oh yes, you're riding high in the polls today.

Mr Michael Brown: Are they?

Mr Cordiano: Some people have suggested that. I guess Angus Reid is saying that, Angus Reid, whose polls have come and gone. He's a pollster of some repute in this province and across this country and I would accept those results. I would accept that this government is slightly more in favour at this time, but I can recall previous governments that have governed by polls. Again, it relates to the environment, because they are looking at those very polls and deeming that the environment is not an important question, that for some people in this province their fear around economic considerations and job creation is the number one priority. Indeed it is, but that should not come at the expense of environmental safeguards; that should not come at the expense of people's health and consideration around this province for communities that have to deal with these very difficult issues around waste management and landfill sites.

We raise this concern in consideration of those communities, in consideration of those people because time and again this government has demonstrated that it will wilfully ignore regulations, cutting them down to the point where there is no consideration for people and what might happen, what the consequences of their actions might be in community after community across this province. There was colossal waste around all those --


Mr Cordiano: Well, in the previous administration -- we agreed on the abolition of the Interim Waste Authority. No doubt there were many millions of dollars wasted. On the other hand we concern ourselves, if agreements are not reached where sites are proposed and hearings are not held and there is a mediation process, that the minister can act unilaterally, almost with dictatorial powers in community after community.

I remind members of the now infamous Bill 26. Let's not forget what this government tried to do in ramming that piece of legislation through this Legislature, bypassing every element of democracy that existed in this great Legislature, totally ignoring that omnibus piece of legislation, had it not been for the great stand that was taken by my colleague the member for Scarborough North, who stood up to this government to say: "No. We draw the line in the sand."

Great honour and great integrity were displayed by my colleague in his valiant efforts to stop the government in their actions and to suggest to members opposite, particularly the backbenchers of the government who were not so well versed in the workings of this Parliament and I think were bamboozled by their front bench: "Oh, don't worry about it. We'll just get this through" -- bamboozled by the front bench and members of their cabinet who didn't even know what was in the piece of legislation. That is why we are concerned about environmental questions.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Take your seat. We're debating Bill 76.

Mr Cordiano: I get back to matters with respect to Bill 76, but if you listen to my comments carefully, it is important to understand what this government is attempting to do and the character of this government's actions which informs every decision they make along the way. It's like they're on automatic pilot. We know what they will do. That's what concerns us. If Bill 26 is an example of the way they will deal with each and every one of these sensitive issues, then we have cause for concern. We are deeply concerned because their actions belie the very notion of consideration for this Legislature and its great workings as a truly democratic place.

We point that out time and again in this great chamber of ours because this bill is of great interest to many people across this province for precisely that reason. The environment is something that affects everyone regardless of age, background or income. It affects everyone. Ultimately the consideration of the gaps and the inconsistencies in the legislation and the behaviour of this Minister of Environment are of concern to us, because there are unilateral powers that have been granted to this minister in this piece of legislation.


That is why, time and again, we point out that we are concerned about what the true intentions of this Minister of Environment are, and what her colleagues around the table in cabinet, members of the cabinet such as the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and others --

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): You're calling?

Mr Cordiano: Oh, yes, we're calling on you, Minister, and we'll be calling on you repeatedly in question period to answer for what you have done and for what you've failed to do.

Again, I would say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who is in the House at present, stand up and speak. Will you tell the Minister of Transportation that the TTC is in fact one of the great systems in North America and the world, that it does impact on the environment, that he should be very supportive of public transit?

Hon Mr Leach: Oh, I am.

Mr Cordiano: Well, you've got to do a better job of it because the minister is not convinced. He keeps standing up in this assembly and outside of this place to lambaste the TTC around its operations and --

Hon Mr Leach: There's always a difference of opinion.

Mr Cordiano: There are inconsistencies there.

We concern ourselves with that, about the fact that members of the cabinet would not uphold the true integrity of the environment and be concerned about maintaining the highest standards for air quality, for clean water, safe water, for those landfill sites, the use of land, land use planning.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs is here and I want to relate to him the concerns we have around -- it's an environmental question. It concerns Bill 76 with respect to landfill sites, the amount of arable land that is being chewed up, the amount of agricultural land that is being chewed at, the very good agricultural land across the GTA. A great deal of land is being utilized for development. No one's against development and economic growth, but we have the famous and now forgotten, it seems, Golden report, which talked about land use planning. It talked about a more compact form. It talked about how to make it more efficient in the GTA, how to make things more efficient and how that compact urban form would result in $1 billion in savings for this government around infrastructure costs. I would add to this that rapid transit needs to be a focus of this government, of any government in this great province of ours.

Hon Mr Leach: Subways.

Mr Cordiano: Not subways necessarily -- they're expensive -- but I think you need to have a better GO Transit system, an overland system that everyone could use and would be effective. No one's talking about that and I think that's something that has to be considered.

Nothing out of the Minister of Transportation, nothing out of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. When is it, Minister, that we're going to hear from you about that report, about changes to the property assessment act, changes to the consideration for rapid transit around the recommendations in the Golden report?

Hon Mr Leach: Soon.

Mr Cordiano: I hope so. I hope it's soon because time's running out on you, Minister. There's a cabinet shuffle coming, so stand up and be counted. Stand up and show them you're made of finer stuff and you will find your colleagues will respect you more for that, because there are these big considerations, these issues that are of importance to everyone, importance around, as I said, clean air, water, health concerns, and furthermore, concerns around how our economy can work properly, how our economy can be sustained and spurred on by environmental considerations.

This government needs to take a much more wholly integrated approach to economic development, along with considerations for the environment, to be part of that equation, to be part of what they do, to ensure the people of this province -- again I will repeat this -- that we don't have chaos on our highways. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic. It is incredible. You cannot get around this province in an efficient, timely fashion. It affects our industries. It affects those firms out there that have to put their goods on the road. It's affecting them daily; it's costing millions, maybe billions of dollars each and every day.

That's what I wanted to focus on with respect to the environment. It has to be considerations around economic efficiency. That can be in conjunction with considerations around the environment. Having a much more effective rapid transit system for not just Metro Toronto, but right across the GTA, right into the Golden Horseshoe -- we need to have a much more effective system and this government is not paying lip-service to any of that; it's going in the opposite direction.

We will have the completion of Highway 407, which should alleviate some of the problem, but I've heard that as soon as 407 opens it will be at 100% capacity; it won't take too long. Within days of its opening that highway will be clogged, and there isn't going to be any release of any of the pressures on the other 400 series highways. They're operating at overcapacity. We have a huge problem to be dealt with.

I want to complete my remarks by saying that with respect to the Environmental Assessment Act there are gaps, inconsistencies and concerns that we've presented today and that the minister needs to go back to the drawing board and deal with -- concerns around intervenor funding, the cutting of that; concerns around landfill site decontamination standards, the lowering of those standards; the time lines that have been set in place with respect to the hearings process; the mediation that's required and the time lines associated with that; and the ability of the minister to intervene to unilaterally make decisions within this act which concern us.

In the past the existing legislation provided that any new landfill sites, that all major landfill sites would be subject automatically to EA hearings. That is no longer the case under this piece of legislation; they could be subject to EA hearings but it's not a mandatory feature of this legislation. Unless this process is much better defined, more streamlined, more effective and deals with some of the concerns and the inconsistencies and gaps we've pointed out in this legislation, then we will continue to express our caution around the measures that have been taken by this government. We will not be in support of the dismantling of the regulatory framework we have in place holus-bolus without consideration for these areas of significant concern.

Let me say in conclusion that the minister and this government have some work to do. This government has to make a better case for the environment, has to link all of those considerations around clean air and water. The standards, which are now minimum standards, concern us.

The time that remains I want to allocate to my colleague the member for St Catharines, as was agreed to before. Thank you for this opportunity to speak.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I will continue the leadoff for the Liberal opposition on this particular bill. What I want to demonstrate or indicate to those who are in the House and others who may be watching is how this bill fits a pattern of this government in the reduction of environmental standards and the reduction of emphasis on environmental matters within the province of Ontario. There isn't anybody I know of who hasn't seen some flaw in the system of environmental assessment on reflection.

Some of the people who could give us some expertise on this would be those who have sat as members of the panel, who have sat on the Environmental Assessment Board, who have sat through rather lengthy hearings which were very much dominated by lawyers and experts and where the legal arguments that were carried on were often lengthy and not as pertinent to the case as many would like to see. Their advice is timely; it is useful advice. There are many on all sides of environmental issues who have made representations on how the process can be made more efficient and yet every bit as stringent as it was in the past.

What this bill does is ease those regulations. It is more, as the government likes to say, business-friendly. If it's going to be business-friendly in terms of environmental considerations, most of the time that means it's not going to be consumer-friendly or environmentally friendly.

I noticed an article by the dean of the press gallery which was just in today's St Catharines Standard. It says, "Harris Finds Inspiration South of the Border." That's one of the concerns I have in the field of the environment, because while in some states and under some areas of jurisdiction within the Environmental Protection Agency the United States has made some significant advances, particularly in the late 1980s, perhaps the early 1990s, we have seen a determined effort on the part of the anti-environment people in the United States, largely led by the Republican guard, who have been trying to weaken environmental regulations and legislation in the United States.

The interesting thing is that it's being resisted. The Republican Party miscalculated because some of its supporters, it has found out -- Mr Gingrich, who is the Speaker of the House, the most powerful person in the United States House of Representatives, has found in consultation -- perhaps it's one-way consultation. The environmentally minded people within the Republican Party have been consulting him and putting their views forward and have expressed to him a great concern that the Republican Party might be noted as a party which is anti-environment, wanting to weaken things related to the environment.

What I have found over the years is that there are many people in various political parties who have an environmental conscience. One can't say that the NDP or the Liberals or the Conservatives, as individuals within parties, are automatically more environmentally conscious than others. There are people within all three parties who have very strong environmental considerations in the philosophy they espouse.

I see what's happening south of the border: Some governors within the United States have wanted to weaken these regulations in the Congress. Now that the Republicans have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, we've seen several moves to try to, as they would say, "ease" -- I would say "weaken" -- environmental regulations and policy statements and legislation. This and an environmental approvals bill that's before us both move in this direction. It's a general thrust with the government.

If you will recall the changes to the Planning Act, many of those were designed to please developers in the province. We have some excellent developers in our province, people who have done an outstanding job, in many cases, of providing developments that are environmentally acceptable and have been good for the province, have put money in the pockets of many in the province, and we have others who have not been as good at doing this. The Planning Act, in essence, allows for, as I consider it, worse planning principles to be applied.

I'm beginning to see some of those in the Niagara Peninsula right now. As the Planning Act is changed, we're seeing some decisions being made by certain local governments which leave a lot to be desired in terms of their planning considerations. When we saw a weakening of the environmental provisions of the Planning Act, we again saw a weakening of this government's commitment to the environment.

Another place we've seen that is the field of transit, which has been mentioned, where the member for Lawrence indicated that we have seen a diminishing of the amount of money provided by the provincial government for public transit. The Conservative Party -- it varies; it depends on the era -- in many cases has not been in favour of public transit. They consider that somehow the granola set is in favour of public transit and others believe everybody should drive his or her own vehicle at all times. While our country in its geography and our province in its geography certainly both dictate that we sometimes use our vehicles, particularly if we're in rural areas, nevertheless public transit has a significant role to play. This government has diminished its support for public transit in this province, and therefore we've seen an increase in pollution as a result of that and an increase in the need for spending on major highways.

Members of the House will know that there are eight changes to various acts which are deregulation. They came out of my friend the member for Lincoln's exercise, I think, where he looked at various regulations. Contained in those changes, in those bills, are also some changes which I think will adversely impact upon the environment.

There's no question there are many in the government caucus who have a disdain for the Niagara Escarpment Commission; not the member from Peel, who's here this afternoon and who is a known protector of the environment in that area and has been a strong advocate for the Niagara Escarpment Commission; nor, of course, my friend the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the architect of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the individual I know who will not let the cabinet destroy that gem of his that he brought in when he was in the Davis cabinet.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): Don't count on it.

Mr Bradley: There are some people who say, "Don't count on it." Certainly the Republican guard, as I call them, the true believers like my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale and some of the others, will encourage that. But some of the more moderate members, like the member from Peel, will ensure, I think, that wiser heads will prevail in this particular debate.

I used to think at one time that my friend the member from Peel was a blue Conservative, but when I look at the composition of the present caucus he looks more moderate than I ever thought he looked in the past.

Anyway, there are many areas. I think when you look at the fact that the government is cutting over $200 million in the Ministry of Environment and Energy, a 37% reduction of the 1994-95 budget, the ministry will lose 752 staff, 31% of current employees, it's obvious that the ministry is going to have to weaken its regulations, weaken its legislation and weaken its enforcement.

This is most unfortunate, for when Premier Davis brought in this legislation dealing with environmental assessment, I don't think he and his ministers could be called raving environmentalists, and I don't think they could be called wild left-wingers; they were simply, as they always were, a practical government that saw a practical problem and said that we need a strong Environmental Assessment Act in order to deal with this problem so that when people brought forward developments or dump sites, for instance, for consideration, there would be careful scrutiny and a determination of whether a plan should move forward. The changes to this act are going to ensure that that process is weakened.

The mediation that it calls for in itself is not a bad thing; mediation is not a bad thing. But the timing of the mediation, the forcing of those who are opposed to a project in essence to be in at the very, very beginning or come in at the very end, ill-equipped, is certainly evident.

Intervenor funding is not popular with some people because it means, in essence, the developer now has to justify his or her proposal and have it go through a system with people critiquing it. I think intervenor funding, while it has been unpopular with some, has resulted in much better environmental decisions than we had in the past.

What you find out in the environmental assessment process is that most proposals make it through the process; not many of them are stopped by the process. What you find out very often is that the representation that has been made by the opponent, either through experts who are hired to do so or perhaps through the lawyers, but more often through scientific and technical experts, improves the final product.


There was, for instance, in the regional municipality of Peel a garbage incinerator which was approved, but it was approved with some 31 conditions placed on it before it would be allowed to move forward. Without intervenor funding, without the critique provided by experts who were opposed to the development as it had been originally suggested, I suggest to members of this House that the final decision would not have been as good a one and that operationally the incinerator that is in place would not be nearly so environmentally acceptable as it might be under the present conditions. There are still some problems with it, no doubt, and there are some people who are philosophically opposed to it, but when the last government allowed it to go through as the final incinerator to be approved -- the proposal had begun under the previous government and was finally approved by the NDP -- it saw that there were 31 conditions placed on it.

What you've done by removing the provision for intervenor funding is you've said now, "Only the Albany Club crew will be able to put their proposals forward and have all of the lawyers on their side."

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): We will get you a membership in the St Catharines club.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale says that he's going to try to get me a membership in the Albany Club, but I think you have to make at least $150,000 a year, and I don't make that much.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): You are in the national club.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Bradley: I'll ignore the interjection, Mr Speaker. I know you want me to do so.

When you take away the people who are there to do the inspections, the people who are there to scrutinize the proposals that come through the Ministry of Environment, that means you have to weaken the entire process, so I can understand it follows that with the weakening of the entire Ministry of Environment, you're going to weaken the process. You're not going to have the staff to deal with approvals. You're not going to have the staff to be able to deal with the details of assessment to ensure that you don't get a Pauzé landfill site, and the members who are up in Simcoe county will know exactly what I'm talking about, or many of the old landfill sites that today are causing problems because they were not appropriately scrutinized and dealt with when they were first proposed and when they were in operation.

I see other examples of the government moving in this direction. The Minister of Mines is in the House this afternoon, and of course he's now put Colonel Sanders in charge of the chicken pen by allowing the mining companies to be in charge of enforcing environmental regulations when, to be fair to everybody, it should certainly have been his ministry that was in charge of that, the Ministry of Mines or the Ministry of Environment as opposed to the companies themselves. That's fair to everybody. It's fair to all businesses and it is fair to the consumers and environmentally conscious people of this province.

I become concerned when I hear that decontamination standards may be weakened as a result of actions of this government. When a site is decommissioned -- and it may need some decontamination -- there are usually rules and regulations following that decommissioning.

My friend the member for Mississauga South raised in this House and in other places matters related to the decommissioning of old oil refinery sites and other industrial sites in Mississauga.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): The Texaco lands.

Mr Bradley: The Texaco lands she makes reference to, and she wanted to ensure, if there was going to be development on those lands, that they had been appropriately decommissioned, that any necessary decontamination took place and that the site would be restored. If you weaken those regulations, you will find of course that this will no longer happen.

The environmental hearings are particularly important for landfill sites because landfill sites are going to be there for a long time. Even after they're closed, the material that's put into them -- and fortunately we have set up processes that have legally removed some of the old contaminants that used to go into them. But even today contaminants will result from average landfill sites in this province, and we have to ensure that when the landfill site is approved and constructed it meets all the environmental regulations of the province. Without intervenor funding, I don't know if this will be the case. Certainly with the weakening of these regulations, the guarantees are weakened as well.

I notice that the Minister of Environment has now abandoned the Niagara River team. There was a team set up by Premier Davis and his government to address the major problems with, largely, American landfill sites along the Niagara River that were causing great problems for the river. We have today fish and other forms of aquatic life acquiring tumours, growing tumours, which show evidence of contamination, rather serious evidence of contamination. We have the largest single source of dioxin anywhere in the world at the Hyde Park dump, which is not far from the Niagara River. There have been seeps in the side of the rocks that have been shown to be leaking into that river. We have at least a dozen significant and serious toxic waste dumps along the Niagara River, and the minister's answer is to disband the team that is monitoring and dealing with this problem.

I can tell you one thing: As soon as you take your eyes off the Americans on environmental issues such as this, particularly with a Republican administration in New York state and in Washington, with the Congress controlled by the Republicans, you're going to find that they lessen their standards and their environmental efforts. That's why we need this team in place. There's a lot of monitoring on an ongoing basis that has to be done. There has to be a determination of --

Mr Hastings: More prosecution.

Mr Bradley: More prosecution, certainly. The member from Rexdale is correct. I certainly agree with him when he says more prosecutions are needed of those who are in violation of environmental laws and regulations. I know he wouldn't want simply to turn his head the other way if he knew the laws of the province were being broken. Being a law-abiding, law-and-order citizen, he would want to ensure that even the rich and powerful companies would be prosecuted, as well as the people at the other end of the economic scale who are carrying on some other activities. I'm pleased to hear his support for the prosecution of those who would be in violation of our environmental laws.

We have generally with this government a trend towards easing all legislation that might be viewed as environmental legislation. There are those who believe you simply let the companies go ahead and police themselves. Some of the people who argue against that most vociferously and I think in a most compelling sense are those companies who have been good corporate citizens, who have made the changes to improve the environmental performance of their operation, who have trained people to be environmentally sensitive, who have purchased new equipment for the purpose of catching contaminants before they go into the waterways or into the soil or into the air, or who have found new processes which will avoid the production of these toxic wastes in the first place.

Those people worry when you weaken the regulations, because there are others who are less corporately responsible who may break those rules and regulations, who may avoid what I call the high road in terms of environmental endeavours and as a result will make more profit.

In fairness to those good corporate citizens as well as in fairness to the people of this province, it's incumbent upon the government of Ontario to ensure that they have adequate staff and adequate resources and adequate resolve to deal with environmental issues. This bill moves in the opposite direction, as does much of the legislation being brought forward by this government.

We hear of highways that want to be constructed through major centres, and we want to ensure that there's appropriate environmental assessment in those cases and that alternatives are examined. One of the alternatives that is examined when one is looking at putting a major highway through a large metropolitan centre is, has the proponent looked at public transportation as an alternative to the transportation being advocated, that is, yet another superhighway through a city? Again I fear with the lessening of this process that we will see more of those highways built and less emphasis on major centres which are already congested, less emphasis on public transportation, as we see when subways are constructed in this city, that being environmentally desirable and probably in the long run economically desirable as well.


The other issue I look at is the investigation and enforcement branch of the Ministry of Environment. That branch must be totally demoralized now, because at one time it had a lot of authority and clout. When it showed up at a polluting company what happened was as Minister of Environment I would get a rather flippant remark, and I always thought it was an unfortunate remark because they would say, "The Gestapo ended up here two days ago." What they really meant, I knew, was the investigation and enforcement branch, which took no prisoners when it went into environmental settings where the company was clearly in violation of any of the acts of the government.

The investigation and enforcement branch was completely independent of other branches. I made sure it was separated from the approvals branch because I always felt that it was important to have an enforcement branch independent of political interference and independent of other branches of the Ministry of Environment. I'm sure that branch now has a much less significant role to play, and I find that most unfortunate because I thought it was doing a great job to turn around the environment in this province.

I also look at the issue of the air quality in Toronto. When you're looking at these proposals that come before governments or before the Ministry of Environment, before the Environmental Assessment Board, you want people to have the resources to be able to critique those proposals, because what we will end up with are more and more vehicles within an already congested area, within a small geographic area. The Minister of Environment apparently is not prepared to embark upon, at least until she's pushed into it by public pressure, the mandatory testing particularly of older vehicles that may be causing great pollution problems in this province. The clean air program that was on the books and ready to go has disappeared completely. In fact my friends in the NDP didn't even move forward with that. I was surprised because I used to hear them speak often about it.

I notice that the acid rain division of the Ministry of Environment has been hit rather considerably. One of the world-renowned scientists got his pink slip the other day, which is most unfortunate, even though there were letters from all over the world coming into the Ministry of Environment suggesting that he be kept on. I used to listen to my good friend from Mississauga South when she was the environment critic tell me that acid rain had not diminished as a problem; in fact the government had to be more aggressive and go to new levels in terms of cutbacks in emissions of sulphur dioxide and NOx. Apparently the government has forgotten that now. The present Minister of Environment has been given her marching orders to disband that branch, or at least to get rid of as many people as possible within her ministry.

We in Ontario used to be the envy of Canada, in fact probably the envy of North America, in many of the things we did with the Ministry of Environment. People used to come from across North America, even from some other countries that people used to consider to be more environmentally progressive in Europe and other jurisdictions, to see what we were doing in Ontario. We were considered to be the leader in environmental protection, in environmental assessment and in environmental policies.

Today, unfortunately, Ontario is not assuming that leadership and I lament that very much because I think others look to us. With the resources we have in this province and the expertise that's been developed over many, many years and the good people that we've had in the Ministry of Environment to carry out the responsibilities over the years, I think it's lamentable that the government is allowing this ministry to be dismembered part by part in 1996.

I thought there would be people in the government back benches -- I know the member for High Park is a strong environmentalist and I know he's probably, behind closed doors, expressing to the government his genuine concern about the cutbacks he's seen in the Ministry of Environment. Being a person who has been on council in Toronto, the city that has been in the forefront on many environmental issues, I know he would be bringing that to the caucus. I hope somebody is listening to him. Perhaps in the shuffle that takes place my friend the member for High Park will be shuffled in and will have more of a say.

Mr Shea: Oh, you've just killed me. Thanks, Bradley.

Mr Bradley: He says I've just killed him.

In terms of environmental protection, I will not plead with the Premier to bring my friend from Lincoln into the cabinet at this point. I won't ask for that, but I will ask that the member for High Park, for that issue alone -- the member for Lincoln has other strengths. One of them I wouldn't consider to be -- I would never call him a raving environmentalist. How is that, Frank? That's probably reasonable.


Mr Bradley: He says he's not naturally raving and I'll leave it at that.

I look at this legislation and say, is everything about it wrong? The answer is no, not everything about it is wrong. Is there sufficient that's wrong with it that it does not merit the support of the opposition? I would suggest that is in fact the case. I think the minister should undertake further consultation.

I think one of the areas where there's a fair consensus -- I watched the Environmental Assessment Board dealing with the OWMC project and I watched it dealing with the project which was the forestry industry, the forestry policies of the province. In two cases it dealt with that. I think if you talk with members on the board subsequent to decisions being made, because they can't discuss these while they're under consideration, you would find that one of the things they said was that the lawyers took up too much time and too much money in these hearings. We must find a way of being less legalistic and the board should have more power to determine what are relevant arguments and what are not relevant arguments.

It's like watching a judge conducting an inquiry. Some judges conducting an inquiry have a very narrow focus and will not entertain extraneous arguments, or arguments which are certainly not compelling to the case; others tend to be less stringent in this regard. What you find out is that the hearing, of any kind, whether it's a public hearing or an Environmental Assessment Board hearing, will be longer and more comprehensive if a person is prepared to entertain any and all arguments. If the minister can find a way to have the lawyers play less of a role in some of these -- not all of them; in some of these -- with their arguments, very procedural arguments, the process could be speeded up without any loss to the final product that is produced.

If you want to ensure that this act appropriately applies, you will ensure there is an Environmental Assessment Act hearing for dump sites in this province where the proponent is compelled to look at all possible alternatives as well as the proposal that's put forward and comment on those proposals. That is so it's not only a landfill site, but they look at other potential ways of dealing with the garbage. That makes a lot of sense to me. I think it makes a lot of sense to people who reside close to those dumps, and probably to the environmental community in Ontario.

I hope that as the years progress the government will start to restore some of the funding to the Ministry of Environment because the Ministry of Environment is taking a substantial hit as a result of the cutbacks by this government, cutbacks which are necessitated by the tax cut of 30%, the tax cut which will benefit the rich and the privileged and the most powerful far more than it will benefit those at the bottom end of the scale.

To have this, we have a couple of things coming forward today. It's interesting that you have these bills coming forward today, because the whole weakening in the environmental assessment process, the diminishing in the funding of the Ministry of Environment is necessitated by the 30% tax cut. Similarly, the video lottery terminals bill, which will follow this, is a result of the government needing more revenue to make up for the money it's losing to the very richest people in this province.


The government should rethink this. We in the opposition demanded, and had accepted by the government House leader, hearings on this legislation this summer. There will be an opportunity for those who are opposed to the provisions of this bill, and those who are in favour of the provisions of this bill, to make comment on it.

I hope the government won't simply go through the motions, have the people make their representations to the committee and then only tinker with the legislation. I hope the government will take into account very carefully the well-prepared representations that are made to the committee and make the necessary changes in this legislation so that it is acceptable, not only to government members, but to the opposition and to the people of this province. That's the way the process should work.

Unfortunately, my observation here over the years, through subsequent governments, has been that very little changes from when the legislation is first brought forward to the final product we see. Unless the legislation is somehow a disaster, the first piece of legislation that comes in looks very much like the final product that the Lieutenant Governor approves when he or she comes into the House to give the nod of approval.


Mr Bradley: I'm going to be counting on my friend the member for Mississauga South to make her representations to her colleagues to improve this legislation.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): She will ease their conscience.

Mr Bradley: I know I can count on her to do so. I thought she should have been the Minister of Environment in that government. I don't want to embarrass her by saying it and I don't embarrass her. I remember that when she was the critic for the Conservative Party she demonstrated her concern for the environment and wanted to hold both the Liberal and the NDP governments accountable for their environmental policies. I know she'll want to do the same, as will the member for Dufferin-Peel, who was also environment critic. I know he will want to make representations to his colleagues in the cabinet and in the caucus to ensure that the final product that emerges after the hearings which we in the opposition have insisted upon and won, that the government will make the necessary changes to improve this legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I will be speaking at some great length --

Mrs Marland: No; this is Q and C.

Ms Churley: I know, Margaret -- a little later on. Being the Speaker from time to time, I realize that this is two minutes, Margaret.

I want to say a few words in response to the Liberal speeches earlier today. I would agree with my colleague the member for St Catharines: I was disappointed that the member for Mississauga South was not made the Minister of Environment.

Mrs Marland: I ran for the Speaker, remember?

Ms Churley: I remember you ran for Speaker too.

But because being Minister of Environment can be a very difficult job at the best of times -- and I know my friend the member for St Catharines, who was the Minister of the Environment during fairly good times in Ontario, from time to time had struggles, and I believe he's admitted that publicly, with his Treasurer and with other conflicting interests in his caucus and in his cabinet -- that minister needs to be a very strong proponent, a very strong spokesperson for the environment. Sadly, that is lacking in this present government.

It seems to me that if the Premier had chosen somebody who could speak up forcefully, as I know the member for Mississauga South could -- I've seen her do it before. I've seen her whip the vote over there to support my bill for further environmental protection in terms of trying to prevent cancer; and that was very much appreciated. I saw her abilities. I saw her in action. I believe the Premier is afraid to put in somebody who would speak forcefully for the environment. I can guarantee, as the member for St Catharines said, that one of these days people will see what this government is doing in terms of environmental protection.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to make a couple of comments with respect to the remarks made by the member for Lawrence and the member for St Catharines. It is interesting to hear the member for St Catharines, a former environment minister; when I think of Whitevale I think about the member for St Catharines. We should never forget what happened at Whitevale.


Mr Tilson: You groan, and that's what the rest of the province was doing. Talking about environmental assessments, the exemption of that site was unbelievable, and I look forward to whether the member for St Catharines will recall that event and whether he has anything to say about that.

The policies in this bill that are being put forward by the government shouldn't sound a lot like what has been talked about by the Liberals, by the member for St Catharines when he was minister and Mrs Grier when she was Minister of the Environment for the NDP. The environmental assessment program improvement project, which the member for St Catharines may recall, was introduced by his government. He had his administrative people work on that and they made recommendations. Then a task force was put forward for consultation by the NDP. The NDP essentially had public hearings on what the member for St Catharines put forward when he was minister.

If you look at that -- I don't know whether the member for Riverdale has read all that business -- it is not unlike what is going on in this bill. These are recommendations that your respective governments made in the past, and now you come to us and say you don't like it. I suggest that both the member for Riverdale and the member for St Catharines read what they've done in the past and tell us why they have now changed their minds.

Mr Michael Brown: I think the Liberal critics, Mr Bradley from St Catharines and Mr Cordiano from Lawrence, made some exceptionally good points. As our party's critic for natural resources it's incumbent upon me to have the government understand the impact of the cuts to natural resources, to lose 2,000 employees. I want to bring this home because it seems you think that if you eliminate environmental standards, things are going to be good for business and Ontario is going to grow.

I have an example from my constituency. A person proposed that there be a subdivision. That subdivision is not going ahead because of objections from the Ministry of Natural Resources relating to fish habitat. The manager's letter, in commenting on this particular proposal, says: "We will no longer have any control of what happens in the water because we have no staff to enforce it and we have no permitting system any more to keep people from doing improper works in the water adjacent to the property on the lake. Because we don't have that capacity any longer, we could not possibly entertain any subdivision of any property nearby because we could not ensure that we can protect the spawning shoals."

The absolute absence of enforcement and proper regulation is keeping Ontario from moving forward, stopping subdivisions, because no one can rely on the government to step in and maintain proper standards.

Mr Galt: I'd like to respond to the member for Lawrence and the member for St Catharines and thank them for their support. It's obvious from the weak debate they put forth that they're very supportive of this bill going through. They weren't on topic most of the time, and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for recognizing that. I did bring that to the attention of the previous Speaker but I appreciate the fact that you brought them back to Bill 76; most of the time they were not on that particular bill.


A healthy environment was mentioned, and I fully agree. A healthy environment is super-important to our society, to our culture, particularly for our own human health. The present act tends to block that opportunity. It blocks the opportunity to develop and find and identify proper landfill sites. What was really desperately needed wasn't to go through this process of trying to identify a proper landfill site. It was a horrendous exercise which did very little, if anything, to protect the environment. What we needed were tough standards to have the proper kind of liners and the proper kind of leachate collection system around these landfill sites, and that's exactly what we brought in a week ago today, the standards for those landfill sites.

This is really what the previous governments should have been doing to protect the environment. This government is a compassionate government, one that's going to see that the environment is protected, not going through a lot of exercises that have been suggested by the opposition, such as intervenor funding. I had one lawyer mention to me last summer that whatever we do as a government, don't get rid of intervenor funding. It's the best cash cow they've ever come across, and he was enjoying it thoroughly along with many other consultants.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, you have two minutes.

Mr Bradley: I wish in the two minutes I had a chance to respond to everything that was said this afternoon, but I'll get the last person first, the member for Northumberland, who launched an attack on intervenor funding.

I must say this is typical of the Conservative-Reform government we have in the province now, that you would attack that, because what that does is provide some kind of balance in the province. The big companies, the major corporations, can afford the best lawyers and they can afford the so-called scientific and technical experts. So you're quite content in this government to have the most powerful people and the richest people have their say at a hearing, but you're very reluctant to have those who aren't powerful and those who don't have the money have their say.

That's what intervenor funding did. You wanted those people to go out and have the bake sales and sell raffle tickets and so on. I can tell you that any of the major companies in this province didn't have to have a raffle to hire the best lawyers in the province. They always had the high-priced -- I was going to say "blue-suited lawyers," but I just looked down and I'm wearing a blue suit -- cut anyway, they had the best lawyers in the province, the best experts in the province and they used to run roughshod over anybody who was opposed to what they wanted.

Bill Davis said and the Conservative government said: "We're a practical group. We're not the Reform Party. We know there should be some element of fairness out there and we know the decision-making process will be much better if we have an opponent who is reasonably well-financed to appropriately critique what is going on. The ultimate decision that would be made is a better decision." But you and your government have decided to come down on the side of the rich and the powerful at the expense of those who are the least powerful and often the people with the fewest resources.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Further debate?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Through you to the member for Mississauga South, this now is my longer speech. I'm sure she'll be quite interested in what I have to say.

For the benefit of those here today who have not known me for a very long time, I have a rather lengthy involvement in the environmental movement. I take it the member for St Catharines will be carefully watching this speech on television. I do come to this debate with a small level of expertise and a fairly large commitment to environmental protection.

I'm going to start by talking directly to the facts of the Environmental Assessment Act and the changes being made to it. I would start by saying what I said during the process of Bill 20, the Planning Act, that the title should be changed. The title in this act as well, Bill 76, does not reflect what is happening with the changes in the new bill. It's entitled the Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act. This does not reflect the fact that the bill weakens the Environmental Assessment Act.

I don't know what the backbenchers in the government have been told. It sounds like they have been told -- because the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale said, "Gee, these plans were being made while both the Liberal and the NDP were in government," and that we agreed with them then and we don't now.

That is not, in the case of the NDP government anyway, the correct fact. These are not changes we would have brought forward. When the NDP was in government, we did make some changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, but those changes did not limit public participation and did not weaken the act the way the Tory government has done.

I said in response to the environment minister's announcement on these changes that there was general agreement that there had to be some fine-tuning and updating of the Environmental Assessment Act. We had begun that process and we would have continued with that process.

The problem with the changes that have been made now is that at the end of the day what it fundamentally means, in very simple terms, is that there will be more pollution in our water and in our air and in our food and on our land.

I hear the Tory members, who seem to think I'm funny or that my speech is funny or that protecting the environment is funny or whatever. I would say to the members that a poll was conducted in 1995, and about 85%, I believe it was, of the people of Ontario believed that the government should maintain strong environmental regulations, that they did not believe in environmental deregulation when it came to protecting their health and the environment. That's very clear; when the polls were conducted, people made it clear.

The problem now is, most people have no idea what you're doing. It's happening right under people's noses: complete dismantlement of the environmental protection which the people of this province, including members of previous Tory governments, have been building up slowly but surely over the years in consultation with all the people of Ontario -- not just with the business people, not just the developers, not just the people who own mines, not just the people who want to cut down trees, not just the people who want to make a quick buck, or legitimate people who are not out to make a quick buck, but the fewer the regulations, the easier it is for them, but with all the people of Ontario.

That's how we got to where we are today, through years, in some cases, of tough negotiations with industry, with the environmentalists at the table and with community groups at the table, with everybody at the table. MISA -- as Mr Wildman, the member for Algoma, will remember, who was around at that time -- took a long time, very strenuous and very difficult negotiations to come to agreements around the whole MISA.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): And goodwill on all sides.

Ms Churley: Yes, and goodwill on all sides. At the end of the day, some compromises were made. There is no doubt about it. When you negotiate, some comprises are made, but generally people felt comfortable with the end result. Now this government has weakened the MISA requirement.

Coming back to the Environmental Assessment Act, the minister tries to claim -- and I know the members here have been told this in their briefing notes -- that there is indeed more public participation. There isn't. That's why the word "consultation" in the title of the bill gives the wrong impression.

The way the minister tries to explain why there's more consultation -- with the changes that happen now, the consultation happens up front. The proponent will be required to sit down with the community -- and let me add here that "community" is not yet defined. We also don't have the regulations around this yet, but even "community" is not defined. What does that mean? If somebody is proposing a garbage dump in a rural area or whatever, an incinerator in Riverdale, who's the community group? Is it the municipality's choice to reach out in the community and get people who are in favour of the landfill, who are generally more on their side? We don't even know who this community is.


Coming back to my point, the minister says the community and the proponent have to sit down and reach agreement on terms of reference. That is when the public will have participation, but we don't know if the community groups who are opposed will have meaningful participation. I'm assuming there will be -- I hope so -- something in the regulations which requires real community input into those negotiations and discussions, but we don't know that yet.

That's the first step in this new process. The public can get involved, or some of the public can get involved, and sit down with the proponent and try to come up with reasonable but fully agreed-upon terms of reference.

When the minister was asked, what happens if the community people don't want a dump in their backyard and they can't reach agreement on terms of reference, he said that a mediator will be appointed. They will have to come to an agreement or the mediator will have to work out a solution. That is the very beginning of the process. We have no idea how long that will take because there are no time lines attached to this process.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Sure there are.

Ms Churley: No, there aren't. I say to the member for Dufferin-Peel that if he takes the act out -- and I have a copy here if I can put it together; it's in pieces now -- I can show him directly. It can't come to the ministry for review until an agreement is reached. What if a mediator is sent in and a mediator can't get the two to reach an agreement? How long is it going to take? We don't know. Is at some point the minister going to say, "You do have a time line"? She said no, if I recall correctly. The new time frames start once that agreement is made, not before.

As we well know in this place, siting a landfill or an incinerator is one of the most controversial issues. One of the things I agree with in terms of the minister's statement is that, unfortunately, siting landfills has perhaps taken up disproportionate time within the Ministry of Environment and Energy, but that is because it is so controversial. I know from experience in Riverdale many years ago that trying to site an incinerator is very controversial. People don't want it, for a variety of reasons which we all know about, and they fight like hell.

I don't know if that was parliamentary, Mr Speaker. If it wasn't, I will withdraw it. They fight, and they will pull out all the stops. They put a lot of pressure on their local politicians from all levels of government and they want to have, at the very least, full participation throughout the whole process.

This is why siting landfills and incinerators dealing with solid waste is so difficult. It's just the way it is. Therefore the problem here is that I don't think it's going to solve the problem that the government set out to solve, which was to speed up the process. Once and if a mediator can resolve the differences, then the proposal is sent forward to the government for review and the time processes click in. However, the minister has more discretion than under the previous Environmental Assessment Act to make decisions, which is also a problem.

Another change to the act now is that the minister or the government can appoint civil servants to the Environmental Assessment Board. So there's more discretion within the minister's office for himself or herself, as the case may be, to make these decisions, to rule on these decisions.

The idea of having civil servants -- whom I have a great deal of respect for, do not get me wrong. But the whole idea of the Environmental Assessment Board was to have experts from different areas of environment and law and environmental policy come together as independent bodies, totally unconnected to the government of the day, no matter who it might be, to make independent decisions.

Let's face it, particularly during a time when people's jobs are under seige, civil servants are going to be more concerned than ever, whether it's consciously or unconsciously, to not come up with a decision that will anger the minister. That tends to be a factor. I know right now that throughout the government there is a real chill. People don't know if they're going to have their jobs tomorrow. People are afraid. They're afraid to speak out, and not just civil servants, but people throughout the province who receive funding from the government are terrified to speak out.


Mr Tilson: What about Peterborough?

Ms Churley: They're bringing up the illegal strike in Peterborough, which I could go on about, Mr Speaker, but I think you would rule me out of order, wouldn't you? I'll come back to the environment.

The minister can then determine whether or not -- she can say, "There are some things left out here and I want you to go back and work on this," but until there's an agreement, she doesn't look at it. So okay, it comes back and then a hearing may or may not be called. I'm going to remind everybody here, and recently, if I can find it -- as you can see, I don't have one speech prepared here, so I'll probably have to wing this.

You'll recall that one of my Liberal colleagues asked the Premier a question about whether he agreed there should be full public environmental assessments for landfill dumps and the Premier said, "Yes, I do." Then, when these changes were announced by the minister, I asked her again, does she stand by that, and she said, "Yes, the changes to the Environmental Assessment Act will mean full environmental assessment." But in fact it doesn't mean necessarily full environmental assessment.

Furthermore, one of the other problems with this new process -- let's review where we are to date. We don't know how long it's going to take to get to the stage where the time frames click in at the ministry. It could take a few months; I suppose it could take years. Who knows? But then the minister can decide whether it goes before a full environmental assessment. I asked, and I believe in this case it was ministry staff who briefed me, whether or not they would necessarily have to, if a full environmental assessment is requested, look at need for the undertaking and alternatives to the undertaking, which is the cornerstone of our environmental assessment.

I remember the Canadian Environmental Law Association and other environmental groups held a press conference here quite a few months ago, in 1995, expressing fears that the government was going to take the landfill, waste management, right out of the environmental assessment process and put it into part V of the Environmental Protection Act, which would have effectively eliminated having to look at the need and the alternatives to the undertaking.

I believe the Premier perhaps didn't like that idea, because he did speak up in the House and say he was not going to allow that to happen. I would really like to think that because he made that commitment, that's why at least that wasn't done, that it wasn't pulled right out of the Environmental Assessment Act into the Environmental Protection Act.


The Environmental Assessment Act in Ontario is one of the strongest in the world and, as my colleague from St Catharines said, not everything that comes before the government is designated to the EA, but if it is, there's good reason for it to be designated. If it is, it's important that citizens have full access to that process and it's important that they get intervenor funding so that they can do independent studies.

Think about an environmental assessment on a landfill site or an incinerator: the complications, the very complex technical work that has to be done. I asked the question, "If there's no intervenor funding because this government has cancelled the intervenor funding project, then how are people going to risk" -- because they won't know till the end whether they're going to be awarded costs or not -- if they can find the money -- and that's a big if too -- "doing these independent studies?" Basically what the minister said is -- or the minister's staff; I can't remember; I want to be clear on the record here who said it, but I believe it was the minister -- "The proponent could pay the intervenor funding, but there's no requirement that they pay their intervenor funding." So the reality is that people, if it does go before a hearing, will not have the kinds of funds which are absolutely required to participate in a meaningful way in an environmental assessment.

If the proponent who stands to make millions of dollars in putting the landfill somewhere says, "Oh, trust us. We've got the best scientists over here to do this and we've got the best whatever here. Trust us," we have found from very sad experience how easy it is, unfortunately, in our system to find well-qualified people who can come up with really interesting answers on either side of the fence. So it is absolutely crucial that if somebody's proposing to put a dump in your backyard or an incinerator in your backyard with all of the complicated, technical implications of that, there is intervenor funding so that the citizens will have real input.

When I go back to this "consultation" in the title, Consultation Improvement Act, people are going to be shut out of the process in a way which they weren't before.

Coming back to intervenor funding, which is an important component here: There was no need to cancel intervenor funding. It was up for review; maybe changes could have been made. We knew it was coming up for review and we were starting to look at how we could redesign it, but we wanted to make sure that it remained in place.

When you combine the changes made in this new act with the fact that people will not have access to intervenor funding, it is very, very clear that people will not have meaningful input. So you have to ask yourself, who benefits from this? You have to ask yourself, in every decision that's made by this government, who benefits? I'll tell you who benefits. The big business, the big land -- I almost got back to the Planning Act here again and started to talk about the developers, because that's the same thing.

In that case, we had a new Planning Act which was basically written by developers for developers. The developers benefited. This is environmental, this is related because you have to look at the cumulative effect of all of this. It is horrendous when you add it all up.

But coming back to the Environmental Assessment Act, who benefits? The proponents. The big garbage dump owners. These are the people who benefit, and we all know there's big money in siting landfills.

One of the reasons the need for alternatives to the undertaking is extremely important in landfill hearings and incineration hearings is that we as a society determined some years ago that we had to find more environmentally friendly ways to deal with our garbage, that we had to stop thinking of garbage as garbage because, number one, it uses up our resources.

I grew up in Newfoundland; Labrador, to be precise. When I was growing up, both my grandfathers -- I come from a long line of fisher people. For years and years, for generations, nobody ever dreamed that the fish in Newfoundland would disappear. It was just unheard of. The feeling was they'd be there forever. But the fish disappeared. It's a resource consumption issue, and we have to start thinking as a people.

There are different kinds of deficits. This government only talks about financial deficits, but if we don't start turning back some of these changes this government is making quickly -- we won't see the results for a while. We'll see some of the results in our lifetime, but our grandchildren and their children will be seeing them and they'll be paying for them too. They will because we've seen in the past that the reason why regulations were built up over the years is because of what was happening to the environment. Now we have more evidence that it's not just the natural environment that's been affected -- species disappearing, resources disappearing -- but it's causing us health problems.

There is evidence -- and I've been talking to the minister about this from time to time, to bring in a mandatory testing program -- that about 800 people in the Metro area die because of smog every year, and that's very alarming. Incinerators, which would be affected by this new bill, would end up affecting our air quality, because even with the latest technology there are two problems. There are a lot of problems with incineration, but I'll talk about two of them for a moment.

It burns up resources that we can recycle and reuse. Under our government, after we banned incineration, the paper mills up north, many of them, spent millions of dollars to retrofit, to retool their plants so they could use recycled fibre. After this government said it was going to allow incineration again as an option, some representatives of those paper mills spoke out and said they were nervous about this decision because they were afraid of what it was going to do. They've invested a lot of money.

The reality is that incinerators today, even with the latest state-of-the-art technology, still emit pollutants. There is evidence now that there is no safe level for dioxin. I don't know if you know, but the very burning of materials in an incinerator creates dioxin. The dioxin is not there when you put it in, but it's the burning of plastics and other materials at a very high temperature. In incineration, you have to burn at a very steady, very high temperature at all times, which requires constant feeding and a particular mix of garbage.


Ms Churley: That's still the fact, I say to the member for Dufferin-Peel. Pollution is still created and there is no longer a safe level for dioxin. It is now believed that cancers are caused by certain of these chemicals, and dioxin is one of the deadliest pollutants known to humankind. It is stored in the body; it has shown up in breast milk. If there is such a thing as any safe level, some of us have already reached that level. What's going to happen later on down the road? Even with new technology -- and yes, the technology is better, there's no doubt about it -- there are still pollutants and people are still affected by those. Tiny amounts of dioxin may have devastating effects on future generations as they build up in our food chains and our bodies. When we need to be doing everything we can to eliminate dioxins and other carcinogens from our environment, this government is turning back the clock and saying, "We're going to allow incineration again."


If you have a proponent who wants to site an incinerator, and a garbage dump as well, at the very least people will want to know that there will be absolute, full environmental assessment with intervenor funding and with the requirement that the proponent has to look at alternatives to the site, alternatives to the undertaking and need. It is absolutely essential. Some people say: "Oh, that's too time-consuming. You can't make these people do that. It's too expensive." I agree that there needed to be more clarity in the Environmental Assessment Act. More clarity is really different from scoping it to the point where it effectively dilutes it, which is what happens here.

If you have proponents who want to build an incinerator -- I asked this question -- would they be required to look at alternatives? I was told that it depends on what line of business they are in, so I said more specifically: "When you're looking at building an incinerator and burning garbage, then you absolutely have to look at the alternatives, because you are competing for the same materials." Part of how we got to where we are now, and we still have a very long way to go, is by having hearings and proponents having to look at alternatives, partly because it's so hard to site landfills, and over time now, with incinerators being allowed again, it will be hard to site those -- municipalities, governments, including the provincial government at one time, although this government has now cut funding for the blue box program and for energy conservation programs.

It's such a waste because we worked so hard for so many years to get to what is really still the toddler stage in this process and there is still so far to go. Very talented people worked on this at all levels of government, together with community groups and industry and environmentalists, to find new ways of dealing with our garbage so that we don't turn it all into one ugly, smelly, big mass of garbage and burn it or dump it or whatever. No doubt about it, landfills are not great for the environment, neither are incinerators, and the more we do on the three Rs, the better off we are as a society.

If you have a hearing for an incinerator, if the proponent is not in the business, I was told -- and perhaps I misunderstood this; I stand to be corrected, but I am sure this is what I was told and this was my understanding -- it will be up to the minister. If they are not also in the business of recycling, then they don't have to look at it, which means you could go through a hearing on siting an incinerator without looking at what they can do, the possibility of reusing and recycling in a more effective way materials that would be burned up in that incinerator. That is a big problem.

To come back to the hearing again, and I think this is a really important point -- I don't know how many people here have been involved in the environmental process. We all hear the horror stories of how long that takes, but it can be extremely technical and sometimes needs to take a long time. I know that people don't want to hear this. Everything now is, "Let's speed it up and get it through as fast as we can."

There is a difference between dealing with and getting rid of duplication, getting rid of the parts that don't work any more and clarifying. One big problem that I often heard from environmental lawyers and others on both sides, the environmental side and lawyers for the proponent, is that, no doubt about it, there was not enough clarity in what was required of them -- very frustrating. There's absolutely no problem with making that clearer.

But there is a problem of making very tight time frames for everything, no matter what it is. That's ridiculous. For simple cases, it would make sense, but it's totally ridiculous to presume that a very complex, highly technical -- these days the requirement, which is good, for a double lining and the other kinds of technicalities of siting in a landfill are extremely complex, and sometimes people are surprised.

That's another problem, because their time frame -- people have been involved at the front end of the process and the terms of reference are agreed to, and something pops up in the hearing that nobody ever thought of, somebody brings up a problem that just wasn't thought of. Then people have no access to bring that into the hearing because it's not part of the requirement. How do we deal with that?

I believe that in the name of efficiency you be as clear as you can, but you have to have some flexibility to deal with complications and the bigger, more technical problems that exist. You absolutely have to have a very clear process in place so that people have as much involvement as they require, so no matter what the decision is at the end of the day, at least people feel they had a say and a fair say, a legitimate say, meaningful participation, which is what's been shut out now.

Democracy does cost money from time to time. As I said earlier, siting garbage dumps is very difficult, and I know Conservatives who live in rural areas who want --

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): You know Conservatives?

Ms Churley: I do, actually. I even have some friends, but not the type of Conservatives who are here. I do know some who live in rural areas who, when we were in government, were concerned about their backyard possibly having a landfill, and these people told me that, boy, this is one case where they want the government to provide funding and input. They believe this is one area where government should invest so that they have full participation.

Obviously, they want to fight it as best they can, but, at the end of the day, with a clearer process, a fair process for everybody, at least when the decision is made, people feel -- what's going to happen if there's a hearing and people don't have intervenor funding? They don't know if they're going to be awarded costs at the end. They'd feel they had to trust the scientists that the proponent appointed or hired to do this at great cost. These experts cost money, and they don't believe, they feel there's something wrong with these reports, that it just fits the proponent's needs a little too closely. How are they going to feel if that landfill is sited in their backyard and they're not confident their drinking water is not going to be affected adversely?

At least I would think that if you're going to build a landfill in somebody's backyard, they're not going to be happy about it, nobody's going to be happy about it, but the more the government and the proponent can do to make people feel comfortable that their drinking water will be safe -- and odour control, all the other things that come into it. If that's not guaranteed and people don't have confidence in the process, have confidence in the experts who are hired, have confidence their point of view was really taken into account and the kind of testing they might want, that proponents don't think is relevant but it's done anyway because they want to feel very comfortable if it's going to end up in their backyard, that would be a very big problem and that's another problem with this new act.

I want to speak for a few minutes about another aspect, and that is the harmonization if a proponent wants to build a landfill or do anything that could adversely affect the environment and it crosses jurisdictions. This was done in the name of getting rid of duplication, and it also comes into effect if a federal environmental assessment is required. But it seems to me, from what I've seen of this, that the intent of the government is to reduce standards to the lowest common denominator, which is a really big problem.


We should be very proud of the fact that we have some of the strongest environmental protection in Canada. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, for instance, does not require the things I talked about earlier -- that is, need and alternatives -- which are a vital part of some of these complicated undertakings.

I see that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is still here. When the member for St Catharines was speaking, I heard him say a couple of times, "You just want more bureaucracy." "Bureaucracy" now seems to be becoming a buzzword for this government to use when it wants to convince people that the laying off it's doing, the downsizing, the restructuring to save money for its tax cut and to deregulate so that people can build things a lot --


Ms Churley: I'm telling the truth here; I really am. This is what's going on. It's just the reality; that's what's happening. You talk about bureaucrats and it sets up this image -- and I've never seen many of these kind of bureaucrats -- of little people wearing glasses and hunched over desks, like some of the people in here right now at their desks. Little people with their glasses on hunched over their desks doing something, but nobody knows what. What is it they're doing? That's not what we're talking about here.

I could have spent all of my time, but I still have quite a bit of time left, so I'm going to tell you about some of the people we're talking about laying off in the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources. They're not bureaucrats, and may I say that bureaucrats in the traditional sense are essential to getting things done as well. I believe, like we all do, that there had to be some downsizing throughout.

But bureaucrats are not the inspectors. We're talking about people who go out and inspect our food and inspect our water and do the tests and enforce compliance and pore over the environmental assessments and make sure that everything is there, all the information they need. That just skims the surface of what we're talking about here. Many of these people are being let go, and the member for St Catharines was talking about that earlier, about one of the foremost experts on acid rain -- just gone; don't need him any more. It's ridiculous.

I have some information here and I'm going to tell you about some of the layoffs. Maybe you're not aware of it, but if you look down the lists, which scan pages -- I expect there are some environmental staff sitting over there listening to me and I'm sure they're writing little notes for the parliamentary assistant if there's some technical thing I've got wrong. That's fine; if I've got something technically wrong, I'm happy to be informed of that. I don't think I have; I've got it all right so far, except maybe I'm wrong on some of the technical things. This is what is happening here.

I've been around this kind of thing for many years and I know it a little bit. I'm no expert, but I know it enough to understand what's happening here. I personally am devastated by the deregulation and the cuts that are going on and continue to go on and these changes that are absolutely destroying our environment over time.

Let me come back to some of the cuts that have been made or will be made. This is the 1995-96 fiscal year, MOEE, operating 1995-96 budget reductions announced October 6, 1995.

Reduce environmental research grants --

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wonder if we could get on topic. We're really debating Bill 76. We've been all over the map, from cuts to dear knows what else. We're really debating Bill 76, please.

Interjection: He's right.

Ms Churley: No, he's not.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The member for Riverdale.

Ms Churley: Mr Speaker, I'd like to inform you that I think the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment and Energy's attempted point of order demonstrates how little he understands what's going on here, because this is all connected to the Environmental Assessment Act. All these things have a cumulative impact on our environment, and this is one of the areas where this government is going wrong. They're taking it piece by piece and not looking at it all in one big package.

Mr Speaker, I don't know how much you know about environmental protection, but I can assure you that this is connected because of the cumulative effects. The changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, combined with a lot of these cuts and changes, are going to have a devastating impact on our environment. This government is deregulating, laying off good people who have the technical expertise, who know what they're doing, who know how to protect the environment.

I know when we were the government we had a hard time getting all of the technical work and the inspections and the compliance work done because there weren't enough of them. We were trying to deal with that and find ways to make sure it was done, and what does this government do but come in and lay them off. Don't you tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about and that this is not connected. It is very connected.

The reduction of the environmental research grants: We have to have, in a society like this and this age of technology, this age when we're trying to further our goals in environmental protection, new ways to have sustainable development. Without that, we're going to fall way behind. We have been on the forefront for so many years in terms of new environmental technology which creates jobs and protects the environment. We're not going to have that any more.

Reduce environmental monitoring analytical: What does that tell you? Does that sound like bureaucrats sitting hunched over little desks doing nothing important? I don't think so.

Testing and standards development: What does that tell you? We want to have testing, we want to have standards, we need them for the environmental assessment process. These are all relevant to the environmental process. We need people who are able to sit down and work with the communities, work with environmentalists, work with industry in the way we used to years ago to find ways to compromise but to come up with a package, to come up with the kind of standards and testing that protect human health and our natural environment and yes, other species.

Downsize boards and committees: I know this government doesn't like boards and committees. They don't like to take advice. They think they know it all and they've gotten rid of a lot of boards and committees, but I'll put that in the category. At least it's not people out there doing the testing and the monitoring. In my view, they're very important because they offer very important advice to the government, but that's part of a general pattern throughout this government.

Reduce municipal recycling support: This is a real tragedy, especially at a time when the government is bringing back incineration. People like the blue box, and that too is very much a part of the Environmental Assessment Act, in case people are worried that there's no connection here. As I said before, we were making advancements over the years and finding new, more environmentally sound ways to deal with our garbage. Now we're going to go back to --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no quorum in the House.

The Acting Speaker: Would you please verify if there is a quorum?

Acting Clerk Assistant (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is not present.

The acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.


Acting Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Riverdale.

Ms Churley: Mr Speaker, I believe I was in the process of telling you why the reduction of the funding for blue box and recycling support is so relevant to the Environmental Assessment Act. It's crucial when we're looking at landfills or incinerators that we always look at more environmentally sound ways of dealing with our garbage rather than just throwing it in a great big incinerator.

Sure, you can create energy these days; that's one of the big selling points of incinerators. But I think it's fundamentally wrong to waste our resources that way and produce pollution at the same time when we should be doing absolutely everything we can, in a non-partisan way I would say, in trying to find better ways to deal with garbage, because it has been such an incredible problem and a plague for governments and communities for so long. There are all kinds of new technologies, as I mentioned earlier, but we're firing people who have information about those.

Anyway, reduced funding for the blue box, reduced energy conservation grants, reduced conservation and planning spending, reduced regional operations program delivery spending, redesigned compensation for emergency response program; well, I can tell you what "redesigned" means. It's a code word for reduced. Sunset Ontario Waste Management Corp without any new plans whatsoever for hazardous waste brought in. Of course, it was time to do something about the OWMC, we all agree, but this government cancelled our past government's plans to proceed with new ways to deal with hazardous wastes. That's all stopped.

Then the total 1995-96 operating budget, MOEE capital budget reductions, reduced municipal assistance program, the Ontario Clean Water Agency; I'm going to dwell on that for a minute because I think we're going to have to have some serious public consultations about what's happening to the protection of our drinking water. If there's anything more fundamental -- I guess the air we breathe -- but our drinking water. Reducing the municipal assistance program, otherwise known as MAP, is absolutely unbelievable.

I remember recently, and we'll all remember, that in this House we heard about cryptosporidium in the water in Collingwood. The minister said there was no proof that it was caused by the agricultural runoff, but what we found out is that the commissioner of the environment said there was a request for a review of that very same issue -- obviously people were worried about it -- and it was turned down.

We know that our drinking water can be vulnerable to this. You'll recall that a person died. I know that people die from smog. It costs our health system about $1 billion a year. Not a whole lot of people, we'll all agree, have died from this, but it's scary to think that we know it's out there and that the minister refused to do a review. The government has said it won't do anything about it, and one of the things it did was cancel the Clean Up Rural Beaches program. That was a program that helped farmers in rural communities protect water supplies from the agricultural runoff that I mentioned earlier that is the suspected cause of cryptosporidium. I believe that program should be brought back.

The other thing that's happened, as I mentioned earlier, is that the minister has cancelled all new funding for MAP. They're not even taking any new applications. That means funding is being cancelled for water and sewage projects. We know that municipalities in many cases, especially the smaller ones, are not going to be able to undertake the necessary changes to the water systems. They don't have the funds because, if you'll recall, this government also drastically cut, almost in half, the transfer payments. This means there's going to be a bigger risk to people's health.

We know that we need filtration systems in about 40 most vulnerable communities. Who's going to pay for it? What's going to happen in the meantime? I really urge the government to bring back this funding, because we're talking about one of the most fundamental things we rely on in life, that is, clean drinking water.

The cuts go on. That was 1995-96, and now we're into 1996-97 reductions. That's when the complete elimination of the three Rs -- recycling disappears; there's no plan in place. I guess this government wants people to throw it all in incinerators or landfills. They'll eliminate municipal landfill waste facility assistance; eliminate municipal household hazardous waste funding; eliminate miscellaneous waste grants to municipalities; eliminate the urban beaches restoration; eliminate the rural beach cleanup, which I've mentioned; eliminate the green communities program, which is an energy-saving program; eliminate home green-up programs, part of energy conservation which, incidentally, create lots of jobs and spinoff benefits for the economy as well.

Those are just some of the cuts we're talking about here. Oh, there's a few more that I should mention. We're not talking about faceless bureaucrats; we're talking about people who actively are protecting our environment, our food, our air, our water. "Eliminate energy education and training; eliminate energy standards development; eliminate institutional, residential and community energy management programs; eliminate public education grants and support to" -- again, I'm just reading. I know it is important to keep these in place, but these are things the government wants to get rid of, any grants that help educate people or non-governmental organizations who perhaps know more about the environment and in fact are very useful for a Minister of Environment.

Coming back to the EA act specifically, you sometimes need to have outside groups who know the issues, who can mobilize the community, who can create enough of a momentum and a demand overall in the community that it forces the government to act or a minister to really push her position on protection of the environment within a climate like this, where cutting and deregulation is the norm.

I would say to the Minister of Environment and to the parliamentary assistant that if there are certain things they'd like to try to get through this government, having these environmental groups out there doing the work, giving the government the kind of push it needs in some cases, to justify -- because they find out people really want it. One of the problems with the changes to the Environmental Assessment Act and all the cuts I'm talking about, and I haven't even finished the list and I haven't started in natural resources, is that it's too much, and every other ministry is making all kinds of cuts and deregulating. People don't know what this all means. They don't even know it's happening.

In the report of environmental commissioner which just came out, one of the problems she raised is that more and more important environmental decisions are being made at the cabinet level, changes in regulations. People don't even know about it unless it's somebody very specifically involved in that area.


Ms Churley: Yes, it's going on the environmental registry -- for 30 days in July. It's very complex; most people don't understand environmental assessment, but people sure care about what it means to them. People are on holidays. What the government is doing is that there's a minimum requirement in the act for the registration of changes that have environmental impacts. It's minimum; it's 30 days. What this government is doing is using 30 days as the minimum for everything. When you've got something very complex like the Environmental Assessment Act, people need more time than that; they need a lot more time than that. Why not put it on the registry now and give people some time in September?


I do believe we are going to be having hearings, I'm pleased to tell you. I guess the parliamentary assistant, the member for Northumberland, and I and some others will be travelling around the province talking to people about the implications of these, and I'm sure some interesting questions will be asked. And because the government also hasn't really consulted with many environmental groups on any of its deregulation, the so-called red tape review, it will give people an opportunity to let them know how they feel about the absolutely cumulative effects. People will come, and as much as the government members would like us to stick very specifically and technically to the Environmental Assessment Act, these things are all cumulative, all go together, so it will give people the opportunity to speak of the fears and concerns they have about the deregulation and the cuts taking place.

I read some of the cuts. There's more, but that gives you a general idea when you start putting them all together. Then there are the cuts and deregulations in the Ministry of Natural Resources, and a lot of those affect the protection of the environment, the protection of our parks, the protection of other species. Conservation authorities, as you know, have been significantly cut. There's a reduction to the Great Lakes management program; reduction in policy and planning activities; reduction in science and information resource activities. I'm trying to find those that specifically relate to the environment because I want to stay on the subject. There are a lot of things in here about cuts to fire programs and that kind of thing, but I guess you would rule me out of order if I got into those, Mr Speaker, so I won't. It says they're streamlining forest management activity.

Doesn't it feel weird, Mr Speaker, when you're a part of the government and somebody is speaking straight to you and saying, "Your government is doing all these awful things," and you have to remain neutral? When I sit there as the acting Speaker and the government side of the House is yelling and screaming and saying, "Madam Speaker, what the NDP government did is just" -- and I sit there. You're doing a very good job of -- you're nodding. You must agree with me. They do that to me too.

This is what I was getting at: With the cumulative effect of all of this, I'm very worried --

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): The brightest Speaker we've ever had.

Ms Churley: He's a good Speaker. I should say that we have the member for High Park-Swansea in the chair. He's got a lovely tie on today. I think he does a very good job as the Speaker, actually.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): He sure does. I'll have a double scoop of vanilla.

Ms Churley: Oh, no. The member for Etobicoke West is back, Mr Speaker. You have your work cut out for you now. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is not bad. You're always the topic, member for Etobicoke West. Somehow or other we all get back to you.

Mr Stockwell: I'll wait. I've got no choice.

Ms Churley: That's true. He has no choice.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Derwyn Shea): Order.

Ms Churley: I guess I'd better start getting back to my notes. I notice I'm sort of running out of time -- I've got less than 30 minutes left -- so I have to scope my notes.

Seriously, coming back -- after speaking for this long you have to lighten up a bit for a few minutes and have a little drink of water -- we should be proud, all members of this House, and the Tory members should be very proud because the original Environmental Assessment Act was brought in under a Tory government. We were one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to implement an environmental assessment process. I've said it's not without fault. It's very hard to come up with a process that works for everybody, especially in controversial issues like landfills where you have two very distinct sides -- three, in a way. You've got the municipality, which wants the landfill -- it needs it; you've got to deal with the garbage -- you've got citizens who don't want it, and you've got a proponent who really wants it to make a lot of money. You've got that situation and, yes, it's complicated and, as I said, it's not without fault. But it's the most --


The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke- Lakeshore is not in his seat. Will members please come to order. The member for Riverdale, if you'd be good enough to continue.

Ms Churley: Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I don't know if it's done any good, but let's attempt this again.

I want to come back to the fact that it's not without fault, but I'm proud of it and we should all be proud of the fact that we have the most stringent environmental assessment process in the world. What we are doing here is watering that down, and that doesn't make sense.

Just very recently, as I said earlier, the environment commissioner --


Ms Churley: Mr Speaker, you can listen to me anyway; ignore them. The environment commissioner gave a report on the -- not their record, because I came up with a report card on the government's record on the environment some time ago, you may recall, and not surprisingly the government got an F on every aspect in terms of protection of our land, air and water. But what is more interesting to me are polls which have been done which show that people want environmental protection. I would say to the government members, people want their government to protect their environment.

I have here -- and I'm not going to hold it up because I don't think that's allowed, but I'm going to read from it briefly. The member for St Catharines referred to this, and I would think the government would pay attention to this. This is from a Time magazine article, March 4, 1996. This is on the Republican Party and our friend Newt in the United States. I'm glad to see that the member for Mississauga South is about to take the Chair. There'll be order in the place now, for sure.

This article in Time -- just listen to this a moment, and listen carefully.


Ms Churley: I'm talking to specific people. I've got your attention. Okay, listen to this. There's a picture of Newt here and it says: "Last year the Republican freshmen rolled into Washington toting the Contract with America" -- it's duplicated, hard to read -- "and vowing to dilute and roll back decades of laws and regulations including those aimed at ensuring clean air, clean water and unsullied wilderness areas. But because they misread popular sentiment on the environment, they took a beating in the polls on this issue. Now as many as 91 House Republicans are voting with the Democrats on environmental measures. Shortly after the House reconvenes this week, Speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to announce the formation of a task force to review the Republican approach to the environment. He says the party mishandled the matter last year."

Mr Ramsay: So there.

Ms Churley: So there indeed. I believe you should take note of this. What Newt wanted to do is pretty much what you are doing, and when people catch up to what you are doing, you are going to be taken aback and you are going to be scrambling to try to bring back and find perhaps different ways. Perhaps we'll find that once you dismantle, it's very hard to build up again.


A sampling last fall by a Republican pollster revealed that 55% of voters do not trust their party to protect the environment, which prompted her to note, "Our party is out of sync with mainstream American opinion." I'm reading this partly because I know this government is very interested in what the Americans are doing. They're looking to America for the lowest standards. "Wherever there are lower standards, boy, let's look to them. They're doing it right. Let's do what they're doing. Let's lower our standards to meet their standards."

What this story is telling you is that people -- and perhaps in some cases in some of those areas people do support deregulation. But it's very, very clear that in terms of the environment, people, Republicans in the United States, did not support deregulation and the government pulling out from protecting the environment.

So, Mr Speaker --

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Margaret Marland): Madam Speaker.

Ms Churley: Madam Speaker. I apologize. It happens to me all the time; now I find myself doing it.

We were aware for some time that this government was going to be making changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, and what was very disappointing to me is that people from the environmental groups and the communities who have concerns about this were not consulted with in a meaningful way. It is abundantly clear that these changes that are being proposed benefit the people who want to build large landfills and incinerators to the detriment of the citizens who are worried about having dumps and incinerators in their backyard.

There is a chance, after reading the poll and the story about the Republicans in the United States, that the government could reverse some of the aspects of this bill. There will, I'm sure, be people coming to talk about some of the things that I've talked about today: that they're afraid of being cut out of the process, that they're not going to be able to hire experts and they're not going to be able to have meaningful participation. I can assure you that people who are concerned -- I guess Peel might be one of those areas, King township, all kinds of possible sites that came up when we were the government. I would say to them that with this process they have a much bigger fear than they had under our government, because this government is not giving them the same input into the process and is not allowing intervenor funding so that they can have proper participation.

Mr Tilson: Stop talking about the wonderful things you did, because you didn't do wonderful things. Your environmental policies were a disgrace.

Ms Churley: I'm talking about what this government is doing. It's like two little kids fighting in the backyard: "Well, you did that, so it doesn't matter what we're doing as a government because, gee, you guys were bad. It doesn't matter, because you did something wrong," in your view. That's ridiculous. You are the government. Madam Speaker, when are they going to start taking responsibility for that? How long are they going to be able to keep blaming us for everything they're doing? "Oh, well, you did that" or "It's all your fault. We're trying to clean up the mess you and the Liberals made over the last 10 years." Of course you ignore the 40 years before that. The mess that they talk about was created in the past 10 years. Forty years of Conservative rule, in their view, were absolutely perfect.

Compared to the kinds of deregulation in the environment that this government is doing, and I'm speaking specifically to the environment, it makes Bill Davis and other Tory premiers look really good. I believe there are many people from the Tory Party who are very upset at this government and what it's doing in the environment.

Mr Stockwell: Name one.

Ms Churley: I can name more than one. You know, it sounds as though members of this government tend to think that all Conservatives support them. I'd wonder if not one person, a known Conservative, has ever talked to any of you about concerns about some environmental deregulation or cuts. It shows how out of touch you are.

That's very alarming, that Conservative members in this House can say that, with all these cuts and all this deregulation, which will hurt human health, which will put us behind in advancement in new sustainable development technology. We were starting to make huge inroads. It created employment. The government was asked to review the cryptosporidium problem before it showed up in Collingwood and wouldn't do it, and won't bring back the Clean Up Rural Beaches program or the MAP funding. And they haven't heard a word, not one? Where have you been? At the Albany Club all the time? They don't hear anything.

There are some issues that we share concern about in terms of protecting the environment, and we've talked about some of them. I would say that the member for Mississauga South, and she can't participate in this debate at the moment, has heard from Conservatives who have concerns about some of the --

Mr Stockwell: Name one.

Mr Churley: When she's out of the chair, you can speak to Madam Speaker. I wish she were the Minister of Environment. Between the member for St Catharines and myself, we were complimenting her so much today that the Premier is going to get worried about her and think there's something amiss if we think she's so great. Now, I'm just putting this in perspective. Compared to the rest of you over there -- and that includes the parliamentary assistant; no personal offence -- when it comes to the environment, out of everybody I know over there, it's the member for Mississauga South who has any knowledge of what you're doing, who has any understanding of the need for environmental regulation.

I was so proud and happy when I brought forward my private member's bill on the recommendation of the special report which Ruth Grier, when she was Minister of Health in our government, commissioned on preventing cancer. There were many recommendations in that report. By the way, one of them was around air quality.

I'm sure you were all listening very intently, I'm sure Madam Speaker was when I was saying earlier that it's believed there is no safe level any more for dioxins in our bodies, and the carcinogens. There are immune deficiencies, reproductive problems, cancers, all kinds of problems that scientists are now seeing emerge and they are recommending -- and sure, there's debate in the scientific community. I rest my case when I was talking earlier that you can find experts on any side of any issue; industry is pretty good at finding experts who'll tell them what they want to hear. Yes, there are people who don't agree, scientists who don't agree, but we have to err on the side of caution in this.

When we're thinking about breast cancer increasing, and other cancers, reproductive systems being affected and immune systems, I don't know about you, but part of this is really personal because we've all had family members or friends or connections to people who have been very sick or died of breast cancer or other cancers. It's very hard to deal with and the human pain and suffering is indescribable. I personally have not gone through that, but I've been close to people who have.

If there's even any proof, as there is today -- there are so many man-made chemicals out there now, we don't know what most of them do. I come back to the cumulative effect and the environmental assessment. Every time a landfill or incineration proposal comes forward, we have to be looking at these kinds of things. We have to be asking, even if it's a tiny, tiny part -- parts per million; that's the way we talk about these chemicals, these tiny, tiny parts. If there is, as there is, evidence that our bodies cannot accommodate dioxin, and we've already got some stored in our bodies, we shouldn't be building new incinerators. We have to be looking at that under an environmental assessment. We have to be looking at the cumulative effects of what else is in the area, and the plume from a smokestack spreads for miles and falls into our waterway and into our food chain.


These are very serious issues. I have, as many of you know, and I believe I share this in common with you, Madam Speaker, a grandson who's two years old. Many of us here have children and/or grandchildren. I do worry about his future. There are many deficits, as I talked about earlier, many, many deficits. I worry about what the world is going to be like when he grows up. I worry because there seems to be evidence that future generations, who have been by now -- I believe that man-made chemicals started to come into our environment in about the 1940s, and there's just more and more and more added every year. People who were born at that time, when they first started to come into the world, were not really affected by those, but then our mothers had more of these chemicals stored in fat tissue and in breast milk. Studies have shown that younger children, and a lot of these studies have been done on animals, are being affected in a way that the older generation isn't.

That's pretty scary to me, and I would think that it would be pretty scary to anybody in this place and anywhere else who has children or grandchildren. I would expect that we would want to err on the side of caution when we're looking at how we deal with our waste disposal problems, because it is part and parcel of the air quality problems that we have. It does contribute.

Another aspect of incineration is that ironically, in a way, the better the pollution abatement equipment is, the more advanced it is -- and of course, what pollution abatement equipment does is trap; it's designed to trap as much of the pollutants and contaminants as possible. What happens to that? Some of it's still going up the stack; it's impossible to catch it all, but you catch an awful lot of it with the latest technology. Of course, the more you capture the more hazardous that waste is, and that waste has to be landfilled. So that gets you into a whole other area of what to do with the hazardous waste that's coming from the -- I suppose they don't call them baghouses any more, but that's what they used to be called.

There are various kinds of pollution abatement equipment, and today it's technically very advanced, so you've got some dioxins and other carcinogens going up the stack and spreading around, and remember, our bodies can't handle very much of that stuff. The rest of it has to be dealt with. Put it this way: You can have a landfill without incineration, but you cannot have incineration without landfill. That's a fact. So all of that would have to be looked at, and again that gets very complex.

How do you define the standards around what is considered hazardous and what is considered non-hazardous and can be buried in a normal landfill? That is a very, very big component of siting an incinerator. So besides looking at the three Rs and the alternative to incineration, you have to go through all the very complicated technicalities of what to do with the hazardous waste and to define what exactly is hazardous waste.

Madam Speaker, I'm sure everybody is extremely relieved to know that I've only got nine minutes left. I must admit I am getting --

Mr Tilson: You can do it.

Ms Churley: I'm sure you all learned a lot today. I yelled a lot at the convention over the weekend, and although my preferred candidate didn't win -- I yelled a lot for my candidate and she didn't win but, you know, it's democracy -- I do want to sincerely congratulate the new leader of our party. I know that he has a big commitment to environmental protection, and since we've been here in opposition, we've worked very closely on some of the natural resources issues.

Mr Stockwell: Everybody is.

Ms Churley: Not everybody is interested in the environment. I know that. To a lot of people: "Oh, it's those environmentalists again. They're going to bore us with all this talk about protecting the environment and other species. They're nuts, they're special-interest. Who cares what they have to say?"

But environmentalists, people who speak up for protecting the environment, are not what I would call a special interest. It is a special interest: The special interest is protecting humankind all across the earth, if that's what you call crazy, a special interest that you don't want to listen to.

I'm afraid that's what this government is doing. They do not want to talk to and hear from environmentalists who have years and years and years of expertise and experience in this area, who could be helping the government come up with new ways if they want to save money for doing these things.

But this government does not consult with the very people who have real expertise and real concern about protection of the environment. They don't consult with them; they see them as crazies, just a pain in the neck. "Let's find ways to get them out of here. We don't want to hear them, because they'll tell us stuff we don't want to hear. They're just troublemakers."

What this government is all about is finding ways to save money for a 30% tax cut that's going to mainly benefit the richest in our society, and that is a fact, that is an absolute fact, and our environmental protection, all of those layoffs, downsizing that's happening, both in the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources, which is going to have extreme adverse effects on our environment and on human health, is being done partly to finance a tax cut, when polls show that people want their government to protect the environment. This government is absolutely getting out of the business of protecting our environment, and that is a fact.

I read out pages and pages of cuts and deregulations. They haven't even finished yet, they've just begun, and it's already a litany of directed tax on our air and our water and our food and our land. It's all happened, and there's more to come. The so-called red tape commission has just scratched the surface of that.

All they want to do is find ways to allow their friends to be able to develop as quickly as they can. They're having miners take over the mining industry. They're having people who own the forest companies in charge of replanting and managing the forests. It's ridiculous, and that just scratches the surface.

So what do we have before us today? We have this Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act. The government should at least be honest. What they do with every bill they've come up with so far, and I sat in on the Planning Act, with every bill they come up with these bogus titles to fool people. It sounds so good: the Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act.

This does not even achieve what it is they said they wanted to do in the first place. They're fooling people. They're going to scope the actual environmental assessment technical process, but the consultation part is at the front end, and force people to sit down with proponents -- people who don't want a dump in their backyard are very worried about it -- to come to agreement on terms of reference.

No time frame on that. The minister at some point can step in and say, "Okay, we're not getting anywhere. You can't get anywhere. Appoint a mediator." We don't know how long that's going to take. What if they don't agree? What if citizens who are concerned about it in their backyard aren't part of this so-called citizens' group?


There are a lot of environmental groups, and before I finish, I do want to pay tribute to them. I did not do them justice today. I have to confess that I didn't write this speech -- you may have gathered that -- and I have lots of paper from lots of different people, and every time I try to find them, I seem to have found something else.

There are groups out there who are doing very fine work, and I would urge the government to consult with them more widely and to take their advice and to include them in the process. At the end of the day we will have a better process, and industry -- I know they don't like a lot of regulations, but they sure do like clarity and they like to know that what's in place is going to -- continuity, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.

This is so extreme, what this government is doing, that they must know another government -- I can guarantee you that if this party is re-elected it's going to change again. You've gone too far. It will have to, because the environment is no longer being protected. It will become a campaign issue, I can guarantee you, in a very big way.

There's a new group. It's a neat group. They're a bunch of university students in environmental studies, in environmental law, from York, from the University of Toronto, from I believe Guelph and other universities. They've pretty well pulled together on their own and started this group called Stop Environmental Deregulation in Canada. I'm sure the government members would be pleased to know that the federal Liberals are included in this as well. They have grave concerns about the deregulation and cuts that are happening. They have held a couple of press conferences, and they're trying to get the word out that the deregulation that's happening in this province is very, very serious, and we have to, as communities, stop. Their symbol, I believe, is a stop sign.

I'm very proud of these young people, because today the environment is not in vogue. I know that. People are worried about jobs and cuts and where their next paycheque or their next meal is going to come from. There are so many worries. I congratulate these students for coming together to try to alert the public about what's happening.

Then there's the Canadian Environmental Law Association, a long-standing group with outstanding people working for them, who do a lot of research and in the past have been instrumental in helping government and working with industry and others to come up with a lot of the regulations we have today.

Of course everybody has heard of Pollution Probe. They've been around and have gone through many changes over the years, and they recently have been really instrumental in pushing forward the smog issue and the need for mandatory car exhaust testing.

And there's the Environmental Defense Fund. There are all kinds of groups that I don't have time to mention now, but I would like to thank them for their input and their continuing concern about the environment and what this government is doing. I would urge them to get involved in the hearings -- I'm sure they will -- and bring their expertise to the government and work hard to convince this government that the deregulation and the cutting are going to harm human health and leave a huge deficit for our children.

There is still a chance to make changes to this environmental assessment program, and I urge the government to pay attention to the environmental groups who know the issue.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Stockwell: I have two minutes to comment on that brief interlude brought to us by the member for Riverdale. There's a problem with the member for Riverdale: Her past voting record and her conviction today don't seem to equate. She was part of a government -- that environmentally sensitive crowd of socialists who bombarded this place from 1990 to 1995 -- that abolished 34 separate acts so they could put lifts on Keele Valley and Britannia. You might ask yourselves in this place, this environmentally sensitive, environmentally conscious individual, how long were the public hearings on that? No, they didn't exist, not one second of public hearings. How long was the environmental assessment hearing? Not even one second -- didn't exist. They put the lift on it. How big was this landfill site? It's the biggest site in North America. How many times did we debate it in this place? Try never. How many people were affected by this? Millions of people in the GTA were dealing with the garbage dump that was out there. How many contracts did they abrogate? At least half a dozen.

This from the environmentally conscious NDP, from the member for Riverdale, who has the temerity to stand in this place and question anybody's commitment to the environment after your government did the unthinkable: It expanded two landfill sites with not one second of public hearing, not one second of environmental assessment, and to do that it simply obliterated 34 separate acts that were put in place to protect the environment.

Pardon me, as the member for Riverdale pontificates from the highest soapbox, if I suggest that you should probably fall off that soapbox, because your commitment to the environment is worth exactly nothing -- political expediency. You gave two raises on landfill sites without a second of public hearing. I don't need lectures from you.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Madam Speaker, let me join the many commendations you are receiving for having achieved that long-sought-after tenure. We're well officiated today, and I commend you.

The member for Riverdale speaks to the issue and reminds us that an opportunity was given to the government to continue and to enhance. The government chose expediency and put the civil service and the ministry, along with others, under a state of siege, commissioned them to come up with a scheme, made of them conjurors of illusion, gutted the Ministry of Environment. For all intents and purposes, to a large extent it has ceased to exist. For a fistful, a handful of votes they keep trying on the one hand to threaten job creation with red tape. They play fundamental environmental issues: trade threatened with jobs. They write a ticket and hope the public picks it.

They use words such as "socialists." I tell you what: We have just listened to the reminder, the good, sensitive, committed message from the member for Riverdale, and every day I will take a committed socialist as opposed to a critic who goes back, revisits the past, grabs a club, a capitalist without capital. I'm impressed.

Mr Tilson: A few comments with respect to the member for Riverdale. This morning we read in the Toronto Star, of all papers, "Hampton Vows to Bury NDP Past," and there's no doubt about it: If you look at what your policies were with the policies of Ruth Grier, you're going to change all that.

I assume tomorrow we're going to have "Churley Vows to Bury NDP Past," because what you're saying today and what your government said between 1990 and whenever you left office a year ago -- you're not saying the same things.

Let me repeat to you what Ruth Grier said back in 1992 and question how close it is to Bill 76. This is Ruth Grier's press release:

"Reforms are now under way to improve service to the public in four program areas: environmental assessment, land use planning reviews, certificates of approval and waste management approvals, Environment Minister Ruth Grier announced today.

"`These reforms will help get good projects under way while preserving the highest standard of environmental protection,' Mrs Grier told the Legislature. `We have to ensure that these laws work efficiently, effectively and fairly. This is particularly important in difficult economic times.'

"There are three major objectives in environmental assessment reform: clearer direction to proponents and the public on what is expected of them in the EA process; completing the review of individual EA documents in one third of the time that it takes today; and reducing the time of the entire EA process by one half when there is no hearing." No hearing: This is what you people were proposing back in 1992.

"This will involve written guidelines for applicants, deadlines for document reviews, a standard review format and concurrent government agency and public review of selected EA documents on a trial basis."

And finally, deadlines for document reviews. Ask yourself what's going on. Get in touch.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I want to thank the member for Lake Nipigon and the member for Dufferin-Peel for jumping up after the member for Etobicoke West. He's such a hard act to follow. I'm glad they chose to do that rather than I.

To the member for Riverdale, I want to compliment her and tell her how much I appreciate her passion for the environment. I didn't know she had such passion for the environment, but I assume if you can talk for 90 minutes on it, obviously it means a great deal of passion.

As I campaigned during the election campaign, the one thing people told me consistently was that if there was a ministry that was busted, it was the Ministry of Environment; it did so much to preclude us from getting on with our lives in this province.

She made a comment, "People want their government to protect their environment." I'd like to assure her and all the members who are watching this lovely program on television that the members opposite do not have a monopoly on respect for the environment. We share that respect for the environment. God gave us the environment to use, not to abuse, and we have the same feeling about it that you do. The only problem was we'd gotten the rules and regulations so complicated that we could do nothing else.

She talked about having a grandchild, and I, like her, have grandchildren, and I too am concerned about their future in our province, but I'm also concerned about their future economically. There has to be some kind of balance between our respect for the environment and our ability to live in this province and flourish.

What we are trying to do, with all due respect, is to make it a little simpler process. Our government will protect the environment. We are committed to that because that is the right thing to do. I hope that she and the members opposite understand our commitment to that.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Riverdale has two minutes to respond.

Ms Churley: To the member for Etobicoke West, I think his tirade shows how little he knows about the environmental process and what his own government is doing. He takes one example of something in our government that he feels I supported and then throws a tantrum, "Therefore, how could you have ever done anything now or ever to support the environment?" which is such nonsense it's hardly worth talking about it. I say to him that he's right that the environment is not a partisan issue, and it was a Tory government that brought in the Environmental Assessment Act in the first place. I don't think there's any point in speaking to his tirade any more.

To the member for Chatham-Kent, I appreciate your comments about my passion for the environment. I say to him that I have some knowledge as well. I know it's hard for members here to accept that, but I do. It's a combination of knowledge and passion and it's my knowledge that makes me so passionate. I know that what this government is doing goes well beyond this so-called balance that is necessary to protect the environment and make sure there's economic prosperity in this province. I know that. I wouldn't be so passionate if I didn't know that.

The member for Dufferin-Peel: I want to make it clear that what he read out was something we announced, there's no doubt about it, but we didn't announce anything that this government -- there are different approaches here -- has announced to date. We wouldn't have done that. There's nothing in that information he read out that suggests we would be deregulating the way his government is. We were consulting with environmental groups and working with communities. The Planning Act is one example of that. You took all the environmental protections in the act out. We made it more environmentally friendly. That's clear proof that you don't know what you're talking about.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Galt: Before I get into my actual speech, just a response to the previous member, a few more comments in relation to that. The member for Riverdale was talking about public participation. In the past that's been voluntary and usually it did happen, but it is enshrined in this particular bill, although she doesn't seem very interested in paying attention to the fact that she didn't even know it was in the bill.

Section 6.1: "When preparing an environmental assessment, the proponent shall consult about the undertaking with such persons as may be interested." I thought she would like to be aware that it's really in the bill and the point that she was making, she totally had missed, because it is there and she was trying to say that we're not going to consult and all that kind of thing. That's the way it used to be: It was accidental or voluntary that it came about. But now it's enshrined right into the bill and will be in the act.

The member for Riverdale made reference to the report card that she made out for the government, and in particular the ministry of the environment. She gave us a F. All I can assume is that stands for "fantastic."

She mentioned, who benefits from landfill sites and getting on with looking after our waste? I would say people like the member for Riverdale really benefit, because if there weren't landfill sites or there were not some incinerators to look after their waste, I'm sure her apartment or her house would soon start to fill up if you couldn't take it someplace else. I'm sure the member for Riverdale would not enjoy her waste building like that.

She expressed some real concerns about incinerators burning resources. Let me tell you about resources, what's been going on. Agricultural wastes created off farms, her government insisted they go to landfill sites. They couldn't be used in any other form. They couldn't be taken back to the farm to be fed to livestock, such as corn husks and corn cobs, nor could you take the manure from fairs and spread it on agricultural land. It had to go into landfill sites.

She goes on to talk about the incinerators and about dioxins. The way she talks about dioxins is certainly fearmongering as she rolls them all into one package. She talks about the toxicity of the 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin, which, yes, is very toxic, and there are a couple of others that are mildly toxic. The other 70 or so are not toxic at all, but she wraps them all into one bundle and talks about how toxic they are. The measurement of what we allow from the stacks of incinerators is based on the toxic equivalence of the 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin, and that's the way it should be, talking about the toxic equivalence of this particular one. I'm sure she'd be interested to know that most dioxins in our environment today come from forest fires, not from incinerators or other activities.

She might also be interested to know about the fish in the east coast that she talks about, why the fish disappeared. The fish disappeared because do-gooders like herself went and stopped the seal hunt. Seals eat fish. Then we end up with seals starving to death. Follow the sequence. You totally messed it up as a bunch of do-gooders down there.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: We don't have a quorum in the House.

The Acting Speaker: Do we have a quorum?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present.

The acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.


Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Northumberland has the floor.

Mr Galt: I'd like to highlight some of the reforms being proposed through Bill 76, the Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act. In bringing forward these amendments, we are maintaining the integrity of Ontario's environmental assessment process. We're ensuring that the Environmental Assessment Act continues to serve its overriding function: providing the best possible protection for the environment and for our human health.

Within this context, we are introducing a number of important firsts that will make the environmental assessment process more workable for everyone involved. For the first time, the public will have guaranteed access to the process from the earliest stages. For the first time, there will be early and clear direction on the kind of information to be included in the EA documents. For the first time, there will be strict time frames imposed up front for all key steps in the decision-making process. For the first time, mediation will be available to resolve conflicts in a timelier and less costly manner. For the first time, the minister will have the ability to reject an incomplete assessment early in the process. For the first time, there will be provisions to harmonize with the federal environmental assessment process. This says no to duplication and overlap, and yes to cutting red tape. For the first time, the role of class EAs will be made clear in the legislation. For the first time, the Minister of Environment and Energy will have the power to focus Environmental Assessment Board hearings on outstanding contentious issues. Hearings will not have to go back to square one and cover all issues.

These firsts add up to a more workable and effective environmental assessment process. They will ensure that our ministry meets its mandate while enabling environmentally sound projects to move forward.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments? Further debate?

Mr Ramsay: I'm pleased to rise tonight to speak on Bill 76, these amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act. I'm certainly pleased the member for Etobicoke West is temporarily absent from this House, because I certainly wouldn't want to evoke his wrath as the second-to-previous speaker did. I would tiptoe gingerly around my remarks if he was here for fear of evoking his wrath. But he may be back; he may be on the way. So I will be careful and cautious in my remarks.

As was pointed out earlier this evening, it's interesting that the act we are amending today was originally brought into this House by a previous Conservative government. In fact, I think all political party representatives of this province over the years have been very proud that Ontario has had some of the highest standards in environmental assessment in North America. It was a previous Conservative government that brought that in. Governments after that Conservative government have sort of fine-tuned this act, but basically the nuts and bolts of this act were brought in by a Conservative government, so it's kind of sad that today we see a really thorough gutting of this bill in this House. I think people in Ontario, and that would be all Ontarians, should be very frightful of the changes happening here today. Certainly in a minute I'm going to be going through some of those changes that are proposed in this act. I think they are cause for concern and people should be aware of them.

One of the things the previous Liberal government had brought in that I think was sort of a complementary touch to this particular bill was the introduction of, in a pilot form that was continued through our mandate, intervenor funding. This basically empowered people who wanted to ask questions, to garner their own expertise, with the financial ability to seek out that information and to arm themselves before a full Environmental Assessment Act hearing in order to debate the issues on an equal footing with the proponent of the project.

I think it's very important that we empower that sort of consumer/environmental watchdog activism in society -- not to frustrate, not to necessarily delay. I don't mind having some of these amendments come through that are going to streamline the process, but it's very important to have that environmental/consumer activism and watchdogism there to act as a countercheck for proponents of major projects that certainly could have a major impact on our environment. I'm very sad to see that as part of this act there will no longer be intervenor funding for those groups that want to partake in that process.

As I said before, I certainly and our party caucus have no problem with streamlining the process. Many of these hearings have gone on too long. They certainly have been too costly for all the parties concerned. Of course that is a problem and we welcome that sort of change that would streamline that process. But this streamlining --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): In what way?

Mr Ramsay: I'll get to that. The member asked me, "In what way?" The concern I have is that the streamlining does not come at the cost of public scrutiny, nor of environmental standards. That must never be allowed to happen, and that's one of the concerns we certainly have with this bill.

Why I think this is going to be happening, and this is sort of à la Bill 26, is that you're empowering the minister of the day, whoever that person may be, with tremendous powers, those powers now being invested in one particular person. You're taking those powers away from a publicly appointed Environmental Assessment Board and from your consumer/environmental watchdog organizations that would have the resources to bring forward their arguments before environmental assessment hearings. So that's a big concern.

Today we're talking about a minister who won't clean up the smog in the city of Toronto that reports say is killing people; there's no doubt about that. We're talking about an environment minister who doesn't believe in public transit, nor will she take it. So I really don't have the confidence right now with this particular minister that we want to empower her with all these powers where before, under previous Conservative legislation, we empowered basically a civilian board to watch over these projects on behalf of all the people of Ontario. That is very scary.

I think we can see some of the troubles that Minister Wilson in the health ministry has gotten into. When a minister sort of thinks he or she can solve all the problems, take on those problems and solve them, we can see, as we did with Mr Wilson and with the doctors and their medical insurance, some of the problems you can bring on yourself. That's why in government we haven't taken all those powers on ourselves when we find ourselves in the position of being a minister. We appoint well-educated, learned bodies, committees, agencies to handle a lot of this work, to be looking over the facts, to be mediators in the debate when it comes to environmental projects. So empowering all of this power into the minister's hands, I think, is wrong.

Another area I'm very concerned about is the minister's power to scope the hearings. Scoping the hearings means basically limiting the subject matter, the area of this particular project, whatever it is, that the hearings, if it goes to a hearing, can take a look at. This can be very well fraught with danger, because if you do that and something else comes up that you weren't aware of previously, maybe from the proponent as they are continuing their studies or maybe some advocacy group that's discovered some sort of hiccup with the proposal, some new geological phenomenon in the area that wasn't picked up before, nobody can change the mind of the minister. Once that decision has been made, the Environmental Assessment Board can't look into that matter. The public can't request to have that matter looked at. The minister has spoken. The minister has said this particular issue should only be looked at in regard to A and B or whatever, and that's it.

That narrowing of the scope of the hearings, while I know it's attractive for streamlining the process, can bring the process into disrepute. It can be dangerous. We could have something come to light or miss something because we didn't give it the full scrutiny of an environmental assessment hearing. So I would caution the government that they look at that.

We would like to say that we would support the inclusion of mandatory public consultation on EA documents; I think that's a good idea. But again, as I said, without the intervenor funding it is going to be very difficult for the proponent to do the consultation, and looking in the act it is not clearly defined what a consultation is. Under the present act, there is very clear definition of how a public consultation should be adhered to.


Recently I have gone through a public consultation that Metro Toronto had conducted in my riding of Timiskaming in regard to the potential siting of Metro garbage at the Adams mine site when Metro Toronto was looking at it as a public sector proposal. Very clearly, the act had given them direction as to how the consultation had to be dealt with with the public. While many proponents might feel this is cumbersome, it's very, very important that the public have confidence that there is an accessible public consultation process and it's accessible because of the time, the information given, but also because the resources are there to fully partake in that consultation on an equal footing with the usually well-financed proponents of that.

One of the big concerns related to what I was just talking about, the Adams mine-Metro garbage issue, is that we're very concerned with the treatment of landfill sites in regard to this legislation. As the members know, there is no requirement that communities must be willing hosts, for instance, of other communities' garbage.

This was a concern in a private member's bill of mine that was defeated two weeks ago in this House where, in my particular circumstance, we have a private proponent looking at siting a waste disposal facility in an old abandoned iron ore mine called the Adams mine site south of Kirkland Lake in the riding of Timiskaming, to house up to 80 million tonnes of Metropolitan Toronto garbage.

This is a notion that, quite frankly, frightens a lot of the people where I live and especially those near that site, but what certainly destroys confidence that people have in this type of proposal is that they don't have a say. This legislation does not speak to this particular situation where communities literally can be invaded. We're talking about a David and Goliath situation here where basically we're looking at potentially 80 million tonnes of Metropolitan Toronto garbage coming in to the Adams mine site just south of Kirkland Lake without the taxpayers having a say through some sort of referendum or vote mechanism. That is a very, very big concern.

I would think and hope that any member who has a rural riding that has lots of rural land that potentially is ripe for a major urban siting of a dump into your area would speak on behalf of the people you represent, and that when the issue came down to your riding you would want to stand up and say, "I want the people I represent to have a direct say whether this project should go ahead or not."

I think that after a full Environmental Assessment Act hearing and making sure that such a mega-dump project is built to the very highest standards and maintained to those very high standards, in the end the people you represent should have a say whether they are a willing host.

We're not talking about us taking care of our own garbage in our own backyard; that's certainly a different matter. Much of what you're doing here is going to streamline that, but there are other situations occurring every day in this province where one municipality or another jurisdiction would like to site a dump in your particular town or village or township, and I think in the end the people you represent should have a direct say whether that should happen or not because potentially that can have a very major disruptive effect upon your community.

In my case, in Timiskaming we would have at least 200- 300- or 400-car trains coming through all the small communities, winding their way up to the Adams mine site. These containers, as they wear, some day are probably going to spring some leaks. We're probably going to have some leachate already starting from highly compressed garbage that is packed into these containers leaking along the rail bed all the way through from Toronto up through my riding. Then, of course, when that waste gets there, it's going to be dumped into the site and piled up and probably not capped for years and years. Hopefully, the proponent gets enough waste in order to fill such a site.

So there are major concerns when this type of mega-dump proposal is proposed in your backyard. Unfortunately, if the day ever came, and I hope it doesn't come to you in your riding as it has to mine, when you have to face that issue that you, if you did have to face that issue, I would hope you would seek to have the protection put into here that I speak to tonight because I think you would want that on behalf of your constituents.

The other concern we have is that while this act gives more responsibility to the Minister of Environment and Energy staff and specially their environmental assessment branch staff, at the same time the minister has greatly reduced the number of staff in that ministry. We're very concerned that while they have more powers, they maybe have less person-power in order to enact and enforce these new powers that they have. That certainly is a concern.

I'd like to talk a little bit, Mr Speaker, now, of some of the process that -- Madam Speaker is over here in her chair now, so welcome, Mr Speaker. I'd like to talk a little bit about the new process and some of the concerns I have with it.

As one of the previous speakers had mentioned, there's a whole new terms of reference section. The proponent now has to prepare terms of reference for the project that define which environmental issues, as the proponent sees it -- ie, maybe groundwater contamination, surface water, air contaminants, whatever it may be, leachate levels -- the proponent now is going to be starting to set some of those terms of reference as to what that organization believes are the proper terms of reference for that project, what they should be and what are those issues that should be examined in the environmental assessment process.

Then the ministry staff are going to have three weeks back to comment on that. If there is disagreement with that, the minister has up to four weeks to seek public input, also on these terms of reference, and approve the document, and contentious issues can be set out for 60 days of mediation.

I appreciate having that mediation process and we'll have to see how that works, but once the terms of reference are approved, and I think this is very important, new environmental issues can never be included at any time during the EA process, and the minister's decision cannot be appealed.

I really think this is a grave mistake and I understand probably the initial thinking of why the government has put this in, but I think it would be a big mistake to preclude any issue that might pop up later on when you're talking about the environment.

I would think we'd want to be sure as we're embarking on any major project that potentially could have a major impact on our environment, that we don't preclude any particular item that might develop later on from full scrutiny of an environmental assessment process. I think that's very, very important.

The next step is that the proponent prepares the full environmental assessment document based on the approved terms of reference and the proponent must consult -- and here we go again, there's no definition provided -- with such persons as may be interested.

This is a bit of a concern again. What's this consultation to do and with whom are they supposed to consult? There's really no definition as to what a consultation means under this act. I think it's very important that we spell out, and I think it should be done in the act and not just regulations.

I hope the minister has in mind that possibly the consultation techniques will be spelled out in regulations. I often wonder and get very concerned about regulations we see after the fact, that major items such as consultation are not spelled out in the legislation itself so the people of Ontario, through the legislative chamber, can absolutely see what is meant by the ministry in this piece of legislation. Something as major as consultation on environmental issues, I think, should be spelled out. It should be clear and it should be spelled out in the legislation and not just in regulation. So I would ask that the minister look to amendments to bring that forward in further debate of this bill.

After the EA document is submitted to the ministry, the public and any interested government agencies can submit comments on the document to the Ministry of Environment and Energy. The minister then can decide to either approve the project, send the proponent and the complainants, if there were complainant groups, out for 60 days of mediation or send the EA document to the Environmental Assessment Board for a hearing.


The problem here, however, is that the minister will only allow the EA board to examine issues that he or she deems to be contentious. Here again, from sort of the original scoping that the proponent is going to bring forward, saying basically to the public and the ministry, "These are the only issues that I think should be examined," then the minister again can scope from there once those are agreed on, can even scope further and say: "No, there's only one issue I wish an Environmental Assessment Board to take a look at and it's this issue only. I'm satisfied with surface water, groundwater, air contaminants. I just want you to examine maybe the possible disruption of air traffic control because of the migratory bird situation between the dump and a major nesting ground at a nearby adjacent lake."

To give the minister of the day that sort of scoping power would, I think, arbitrarily limit far too much the scope, the breadth of this particular examination, and is wrong. I think we're bound to make a mistake down the road if we do that.

I must tell you that for streamlining the process and making it more efficient and making it more cost-effective, I would rather err on the side of the environment and make sure we don't make an error on the environment because we wanted to have a more efficient process. I think that's very important and I would ask the minister to give a second thought to that and maybe entertain some amendments that I think would be coming forward.

Some of the key changes from the current process are basically that the minister today with this new act now would have sweeping new powers. It is the minister's sole discretion of approving the terms of reference as I've mentioned, designating which issues be sent to the board and the time allotment for board review.

Again, sometimes when you get into some of these issues, it is not apparent at the outset as to the complexity of the issues, the number of interested groups and people, the time it would take to hear the expertise that might come forward both from the proponent and from any intervenors that wish to be included in this and I think it would be almost impossible to start to scope and time-allocate the process in any meaningful way without endangering the legitimacy of the process. Again, I would ask the minister to take a look at that.

Previously, only the full cabinet could grant exceptions to EAs or overturn EA board decisions; now the minister has complete authority over both of these actions. Again it's empowering the minister solely and exclusively with these powers. Whether we're in the government at the time or you're in the government now, sometimes we have greater or less confidence in the ministers we have even in our own government. Obviously, from government to government, from term to term within government, we have some ministers who perform better than others, ones we have more confidence in than others.

To basically give that empowerment to a minister, maybe a minister of that day who we think doesn't particularly have as strong a commitment to the environment that maybe other ministers or your current minister has today, I think is frightening.

I think it's frightening to empower one particular person with that sort of power, especially when you're talking about the environment. You're not talking about just closing a hospital, which you've given the Minister of Health the power to do. You're talking about the environment. You're talking probably about permanent, long-term impact on the air we breathe, the water we drink.

I think it's very important to rethink this and to make sure that you only maybe fine-tune the very good system you, the government, the Conservative Party, brought in years ago in the original act. It doesn't need the major overhaul you're giving it today. It needs some fine-tuning, there's no doubt about it, and I think that's what we're asking you to do today.

Presently, there are no terms of reference for a project and the minister does not have the power to assign only specific issues at this moment or the time frame, as this new bill is going to be giving. Today, new issues can be raised by the public at any time during an environmental assessment hearing. I think it's very important to allow the public, as new issues arise, to raise those issues before a full EA process. It's very, very important.

In my remaining time I would like to talk a little more specifically about landfills because I think, of all the projects that from day to day are proposed in Ontario, landfills have some of the greatest impact upon our environment, and will continue to do so until we find better, more efficient ways to handle waste.

I come to this argument as a proponent for high-tech, high-temperature incineration. I believe, quite frankly, that probably it's old-fashioned and barbaric to be burying our waste in the ground today. We should be finding new and modern high-tech methods of handling our waste. I think some of those methods exist. I know there are new methods such as high-temperature vaporization methods that aren't even incineration that are just around the corner from being approved. I think we need to be expediting that sort of research and looking at those methods rather than finding the biggest hole in the ground we can in this province and putting all the garbage we can find into it and trying to cap it off and trying to pump up leachate and trying to purify that leachate before we put it into our groundwater and our surface water. I think we really have to start to look at new methods of handling our waste.

One of the concerns I have with landfill sites is, as I see it from the bill, basically a lowering of the standards that are going to be used for siting landfill sites. I really don't believe we should be allowed at all to degrade the existing water of a lake or a river or our groundwater. I don't know why today we should allow that degradation to happen. I think when it comes to that we should have zero tolerance. I've looked at some of the accepted tolerances that are included in this act in regard to groundwater in particular that's of particular concern to myself, and when it comes to health-related chemicals and non-health-related chemicals. There's quite a variable there that the ministry, under this legislation, is going to be allowing for these different chemicals compared to the background readings today of the river or the lake and what we're going to be allowed to degrade in comparison to the drinking water standard for this province.

In a major landfill site such as being proposed in my riding, up to 65,000 contaminants can be found in the leachate that would come from a major landfill site that comes from garbage from a major city such as Metropolitan Toronto. We, quite frankly, don't have a handle on 10% of those chemicals. We don't even have an impact of what a lot of those chemicals potentially can do, so why would we allow any further degradation of our groundwater and of our surface water than we have already today when we depend on our groundwater and surface water in many communities, in many rural settings, whether it's for feed, watering agriculture, or the drinking water for a population? Why would we allow further degradation of any water source on this planet?

I think in 1996 we should be striving for a higher standard. We should be striving for the very best standard attainable. We know when we take a look at cancer rates, for instance, in North America that where the highest rates are is the very bottom of the Mississippi basin, in New Orleans, in Louisiana, where basically the chemical soup is its richest, as all the different runoffs and chemicals, whether it's from agriculture, from industrial applications, other plants -- the mix of those chemicals with the chlorine that we put into our drinking water all flows into Ohio, Missouri, comes down the Mississippi River Valley, and many of the communities along that river system derive their drinking water from that river system. If you take a look at where the worst cancers are in North America, at the very bottom of that river system is where they may be found.

That's frightening, and we know that today. If we know that today, we should have the sense, the common sense, if you will, to stop that. We should never, ever again allow the degradation of any water source on this planet. Water is becoming a more and more precious commodity. We have ruined so much of it. We have ruined much of our groundwater through irresponsible irrigation techniques in the Midwest of the United States. The Oglala aquifer that feeds much of the Iowa and Kansas corn country that we use to irrigate the Midwest breadbasket of the United States is contaminated because as we pump the water out of the ground, the water leaches back, carrying with it all the agricultural chemicals back into the groundwater. Subsequent recycling of that back and forth every season over the last 40 years has basically contaminated one of the richest sources of groundwater in North America. Surely in Ontario in 1996, with the wisdom we have today, I would think with the esteem we hold the environment in today, we would never, ever again allow the degradation of our water source in this province.


We in Ontario are the guardians of the world's largest supply of fresh water. In fact, we have just about half of the world's fresh water supply in this province. We not only should be the guardian and the steward of that fresh water supply for us Ontarians and our future generations, but we should also be the guardian of that fresh water supply for the rest of this country and the rest of the world, because the rest of this planet is probably going to have to rely on that water too sometime. So we better keep it clean and we better keep it pure. We better start finding new ways to handle our waste, new high-technology ways to handle waste, rather than just finding the very biggest pit in the ground.

To be putting 80 million tonnes of garbage in a fractured rock pit is absolutely ludicrous. It's insane, it's a bad idea, and it should never be allowed to happen. This government should never allow an environmental assessment to pass on the Adams mine waste proposal, because if you do and you don't allow it go to a hearing and if you don't let the local people have a say on that, I'm telling you, there will be widespread civil disobedience in Timiskaming. There will be widespread civil disobedience throughout my riding and I will be there on the front line as a part of that if you allow that to happen without due diligence and strictly a full EA hearing and in the end our local people having a say.

It should never happen and, quite frankly, I don't believe it's going to happen. It should never happen. We should never, ever, even with the very best engineering today, say, "Yes, this looks safe." I can just see somebody coming down the road in 30 or 40 years and saying: "Boy, those stupid people back in 1996. I guess they didn't know about the impact of leachate in a fractured rock pit. It's too bad they didn't know. It's a real mess up here."

We've lost the agricultural belt and the little clay belt of Timiskaming because the aquifer now is contaminated. It's just not worth the risk. So I would ask the minister and I'd ask the government members to take a second look at this bill. We're not against fine-tuning it, we're not against streamlining this process, but don't gut it. Don't gut it at the expense of public inquiry and don't gut it at the expense of the environment.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments?

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): It's very interesting to listen tonight in this debate especially to the member for Timiskaming as a previous member of the cabinet of the Peterson government. Between 1987 and 1990 you were in cabinet, I recall, Mr Ramsay, and you were part of a government that imposed the tire tax on this province. This was to develop programs for the safe disposal of tires. The cost to the consumer was at the time quite willingly accepted by the consumers of this province when they went to buy new tires and they paid their $5 per tire disposal tax.


Mrs Marland: I think he can answer it, I say to the member for St Catharines, without the help of the former Minister of the Environment.

The Liberal government collected in their initial year, as I recall, $40 million, and after that over $100 million a year. We did not see in this province one single program for the safe disposal of tires. What we had instead was the worst fire in a used tire dump at Hagersville, as I recall.

So to have the member for Timiskaming, I say with respect, come into this place this evening and tell us what is wrong with our environmental legislation after you were the government for five years and couldn't even implement the programs through the tire tax that the tire tax was designed for, the safe reuse of used tires, all kinds of wonderful announcements -- I remember asking the then Treasurer, Bob Nixon, to designate that money for programs, and it never happened.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I very much enjoyed the remarks of the member for Timiskaming, and I know the member for London Centre will be talking about environmental issues after this.

I really thought he capsulized best what this legislation is all about and the ramifications for his riding. There is a proposal, as we all know, to take the garbage from the greater Toronto area and plunk it in the riding of Timiskaming. He was good enough to bring forward a piece of legislation or a resolution in this House in the time allocated for private members' public business where he had some very positive and constructive and practical suggestions on how the process might be handled. He wasn't saying that under no circumstances should this be considered. He simply thought there was a reasonable process to follow that, because it was taking garbage from one area of the province, a large amount, and putting it in another area, involved consulting the local people by means of a referendum. I thought the Conservative-Reform party across the floor was a party which believed in referenda and that they would be embracing his resolution. Unfortunately, his resolution or his bill did not pass on that occasion.

I think through his speech today he's demonstrated clearly why it would have been preferable to pass that legislation and why it would have been important to maintain the environmental process which is in place at this time, as opposed to weakening it so that we're in a position today of having landfills approved that might not be approved. I'm sure the member for Cochrane South will be commenting on this in just a moment, and I will yield the floor to the member for Cochrane South.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Mr Speaker, nice to see you in the chair, doing your job, as always, in a diligent way.

I just want to say I've been listening to the speeches tonight. The member from Temagami, who resides just south of the riding I'm in, is quite right. The problem here, which we're going to get into, is a complete ratcheting down of the whole system in regard to what happens with the environment. I think the principle here that really irks a lot of people who are involved in the environmental movement and those people who care is that we have spent such a long time. The member for St Catharines would know, with the amount of time that he spent as Minister of the Environment, and I know our former ministers of the environment spent such a long time over a period of time trying to develop legislation that is able to deal with the question of how you balance the economic interests of the corporation at the same time as being able to balance off the needs of the public.

I guess what's fairly difficult for us to take as people in opposition who care about these issues deeply is that you're seeing a government throwing all of that away in an effort to give a few people in society an opportunity to make an extra buck. Sure, in the end, making a buck is important. That's what an economy is all about. An economy is about the ability to make a dollar and to prosper, and out of that activity comes economic growth. But I think the question you have to ask yourself is, at what cost? At what cost do we allow people to do that? Should regulations in the environment be so onerous that economic activity is not allowed to happen? Of course not. Who would argue?

Mr Hastings: Be careful.

Mr Bisson: I hear the member for Bedrock -- I mean the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Excuse me. I apologize for that; it's getting late at night. With that, I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Mr Hastings: It's very interesting to have listened all day to the varying echoes of internal contradictions from members of the Peterson regime. They talk about how they're not in favour of the bill because it guts the whole environmental assessment operation, yet in the next breath the member for Lawrence said that he was in favour and saw the necessity for reform, but they weren't necessarily in favour of any reform if it involved streamlining. But we could have a little bit of streamlining from the member for Timiskaming, but he never got around to really elaborating on what type of streamlining. I asked him in the interjection, and he just went on and talked about his concern about landfill sites.

The other thing that's very interesting from the members opposite: They talk about preserving standards; they want to have high environmental standards. Yet when you look at the highest standards that we have in North America today and you look at the outcomes that we're getting, we're not getting practical results with those high standards.


Take the case of smog in southern Ontario. If you have a regime of strict regulation, and if it had been as successful as they argue over there it is, then why do we still have any smog left? Working on a clear logic of high environmental regulation, we should have no smog today, but the member for St Catharines has always argued we need tighter regulation. If that were so, then we should have no smog right today, but in fact, even if you had the highest level of enforcement, you still have smog, because you fail to recognize international air flows and all that results therefrom. It's incredible.

The Deputy Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Timiskaming has two minutes.

Mr Bradley: Are we in the 1950s?

Mr Ramsay: Yes, we've got a lot here to comment on. I'd just like to say to the member for Mississauga South -- oh, there she is -- bringing up the tire tax, I must say, Margaret, that the revenue from the tire tax went to a lot of other recycling programs. In fact, the blue box program, a very famous program that this minister here, Jim Bradley, brought in back in the 1980s, and Mr Bradley, the former environment minister, received a reward from the United Nations for the blue box system and many municipalities right across --


Mr Ramsay: That's what he told me, and I've read testaments in magazines about that too, that Mr Bradley was one of the best environment ministers this province has ever had, recognized by the United Nations. Even though I make him blush, I will still go on and say that. I'm very, very proud of that for sure.

I would say to the member from Bedrock over there that you talk about smog. What you're saying is, "How come we have smog today with the standards we have?" We can do better. Look at California. They've got much better standards than we do. We've got to start looking at higher standards. Yes, we have transborder migration of pollutants that cause smog in Ontario, up the Ohio Valley; no doubt about it. But we can still do a better job with emissions from Ontario.

I think we start to look at the emissions of cars, start to look at some of the older cars in Ontario. Many provinces, such as Nova Scotia, for instance, have mandatory annual inspections of their cars. Maybe that's a little much for Ontario with probably the five million cars we have here, but I think we have to start to pull off by age some of the older cars and make sure they are up to standard. Why should we be going by some car that's just puffing out blue smoke in Ontario? Why don't we look at that? I would hope the member would not be against that sort of thing.

Mr Hastings: That sure is a good idea.

Mr Ramsay: Well, there you are. Maybe we could work together as legislators on a private member's bill. We'll call it the blue-smoke pull-over-the-car bill and we'll get everybody to sponsor that. I welcome that support from the member.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Elliott has moved second reading of Bill 76. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to defer the vote until tomorrow after orders of the day.


The Deputy Speaker: Immediately after question period?

Mrs Ross: Yes, sorry.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? It is agreed. The vote is deferred.


Mr Sterling moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 75, An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming / Projet de loi 75, Loi réglementant les alcools et les jeux dans l'intérêt public, prévoyant le financement des organismes de bienfaisance grâce à la gestion responsable des loteries vidéo et modifiant des lois en ce qui a trait aux alcools et aux jeux.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'm pleased to be involved in the second reading debate of the Alcohol, Gaming and Charity Funding Public Interest Act. I hope to talk about a number of issues today with regard to this bill. This bill is all-encompassing, with many of the parts, however, related to each other.

This bill amalgamates the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission of Ontario. It takes from the LCBO some of its regulatory functions and gives them to the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. It introduces to Ontario a control system to introduce video lottery machines to the province. It introduces to Ontario a regime whereby charity gaming halls will be introduced to the province. It deals with a problem we have with regard to addictive gambling, in providing funding to deal with that problem. Last, it deals with more stringent liquor control laws in Ontario to deal with troubled premises in terms of the control of liquor.

I'd like to talk about all those matters in my opening remarks.

First, I would like to talk about the amalgamation of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the gaming commission. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, we will be combining these two boards into one. It will, as a single agency, be able to focus more clearly on enforcement measures relating both to the control of beverage alcohol but also to gaming in Ontario. This new agency will save the taxpayers some money, no question. We estimate that the saving could be in the neighbourhood of somewhere between $1 million and $2 million.

The restructuring will amalgamate the licensing functions into one organization, which should lead to greater efficiencies and better customer service. I hope that by having these two agencies in one it will allow smaller communities to benefit from greater service, because there will be justification for having one employee in a more remote area of the province. That's important to those of us from eastern Ontario and northern Ontario in particular.

This move also supports our government's commitment to continue to cut the number of commissions and agencies and boards we have in our province. I have already appointed the chairman of the Gaming Control Commission as the chairman of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, that person being Clare Lewis, who is now serving in both functions. That move in itself saved the taxpayers over $100,000 in the elimination of one salary of the chief administrative officer of those boards.

The other interesting move with regard to the amalgamation of these two agencies is the taking away from the LCBO the regulatory power it has. This has long been a sore point, particularly with groups like MADD and groups concerned about drinking. They've always viewed it as a conflict of interest that the LCBO, the primary retailer of alcohol in the province, is also in the regulation business. They believe, and we believe now and will be effecting by the change in this legislation -- we will be making the LCBO, pure and simple, a retailer of alcohol in Ontario.

The transfer of these regulatory powers will include the transfer of the regulatory power to deal with private delivery services, and the authority over the establishment, location and hours and other conditions of operation of retail outlets, which includes not only their own stores but also includes Brewers Retail establishments. They set the rules according to when they can be open and the rules surrounding their particular operations. Of course we have a number of vintners in the province who have their own stores and sell wine from their own premises. Therefore, that regulating power will be moved from the LCBO over to the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission.


It seems to me that this will not only take away this potential conflict of interest which has existed for over 60, 70 years since the LCBO was founded, but it will also ensure that all the regulatory matters concerning the sale and distribution of alcohol are in one organization. They will be in this one organization which we are creating in this bill.

There will be, as I mentioned, some savings, and there will be some dislocation of employees. But because we have a new casino opening, I believe at the end of July, near Orillia on the Rama reserve, which was granted by the previous government, and a new casino that will be opening in Niagara Falls, and also a number of charitable gaming halls which will be created under this legislation, it is our expectation that the joint board, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, will have more employees. It takes quite a number of employees, quite frankly, to manage the gaming halls and these casinos. Notwithstanding that they're joining these two boards and gaining some efficiencies, in fact the total organization will be growing in number in the not-too-far-distant future.

One of the attractive parts of joining these two functions at this time while we're introducing video lotteries is to ensure that both gaming and liquor licence regulations are followed instead of sending separate inspectors from the two organizations.

I would point out that similar mergers to the one I am proposing in Bill 75 have been taken in a number of other provinces. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia have all sought efficiencies through amalgamating their liquor boards and other regulatory bodies.

Bill 75 also amends a number of other statutes that will make it possible for controlled and measured introduction of video lotteries in Ontario. Concern has been raised about the effect of video lotteries on our younger population. In this respect, we will be amending the Liquor Licence Act to permit the revocation or suspension of a liquor licence when a licence holder or an employee allows a person under the age of 19 to play video lotteries or to be in an area restricted for video lottery players. If video lotteries are put in licensed premises, the owner or the licensee will not only have to be concerned if he allows a youth to play the video lottery machines, he will not only have to be concerned about what will happen with regard to the video lottery machines, but he or she will also have to be concerned that they will lose their liquor licence if they are found to have a young person playing the video lottery machines.

As the Minister of Finance outlined in the budget speech, we are introducing the video lottery machines here to fight a problem which exists across the province. We have somewhere between, as estimated by the police, 15,000 and 25,000 video lottery machines in the province at present. These machines are not very good for the government, and they're not very good for the players either. One prospect you have in regulating this particular activity is that you ensure that the player gets a certain amount back out of the machine. We have heard stories that the illegal video lottery machines out there now pay back as little as 20% of what is played into the machines. The machines that will be licensed through the gaming commission and controlled by the Ontario Lottery Corp will be paying back somewhere in the neighbourhood of 85% to 90% -- and I can't say the exact figure on that -- back to the patrons.


Hon Mr Sterling: The former Minister of Transportation, who supported the introduction of casinos in Windsor and in Rama, is now concerned about video lottery machines in other parts of the province.

With these machines, we want to make sure we have the strongest possible laws, in terms of regulating, in our country. British Columbia and Ontario are the only two provinces which do not have these machines. We've also promised that we will have the lowest number of machines per population of any of the provinces that now have them.

In order to fight the existing problem, to have some control over these -- and I guess as a bonus too -- we have promised that charities will get 10% of the win out of these machines. This is going to be a tremendous boon to the charitable community in terms of what they will get out of this. And as the finance minister indicated, which I will be talking about a little later, there will be some revenue given to those people and programs dealing with addiction to gambling, which we do not deny is there. We are going to be the first jurisdiction in North America that deals with it as seriously as we are dealing with it in this piece of legislation.

One of the odd parts of the law we have in our country and in our province is that under our Criminal Code the only entity that can run video lottery terminals is the province. We have been given that specific mandate in the Criminal Code of Canada. Therefore, we must have some direct involvement in the running of these machines if we are going to have them in Ontario.

The Ontario Lottery Corporation Act will be amended to make the Ontario Lottery Corp responsible for this, and they will be under the regulatory regime of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which will be in my ministry. The Ontario Lottery Corp is under the Honourable William Saunderson's ministry, the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. The business aspect of this is within his ministry, and the regulatory part is within the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

This law will also reinforce restricted access to areas designated for video lottery play and will prohibit play by persons under the age of 19 years. If an owner of an establishment or a racetrack or a charity gaming hall is going to have video lotteries, they will have to have a restricted area and ensure that no one under the age of 19 goes into that area. That will be part of the regulations within this law we are proposing today.

Although our proposal indicated very clearly that the introduction and operation of VLTs by our government will be done in a measured and tightly controlled fashion, we are building the necessary safeguards, we believe, to help counter the illegal gaming activity in the province and bring much-needed discipline and control to our gaming marketplace.

As I mentioned before, we will be putting aside 2% of lottery revenues to enable the government to support the problem of gambling addiction strategy and research and public awareness. As I also mentioned before, no jurisdiction in North America has put this many resources towards this problem we have in our community.


Video lotteries might, to some people, be a significant problem to deal with in terms of gaming, but I want to indicate that gaming in Ontario now attracts $10 billion worth of business a year. That includes our lotteries, our horse racing, our casinos and a number of other places. In putting aside 2% of the revenue, we will be able to deal not only with the problems that spin out of video lotteries -- as I said, we're plagued by these illegal machines -- but also with the problems associated with all the legal gambling which is now taking place and has been sanctioned by previous governments, as well as the illegal gambling taking place in our society.

In a news release, Mr Tibor Barsony, the executive director of the Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling, said, "After 14 years of struggling alone to place the issue of problem and compulsive gambling in the consciousness of gaming providers in Ontario, a light finally begins to shine at the end of the tunnel."

He went on to say, "The government's setting aside of 2%, estimated to be some $9 or $10 million per year, represents an important step in recognizing and beginning to deal with the problem.

"The government's decision to initially locate VLTs only at racetracks and permanent charity event sites reflects the careful approach advocated by the foundation."

As I said in my statement to the House on June 13, 1996, we believe these video lotteries, implemented with tight regulatory control and within a limited-access environment, can meet a legitimate entertainment demand. At the same time, they will provide an increasing flow of funds to community charities across the province and assist the horse racing industry and the province's hospitality sector to compete and grow.

Again let me quote from correspondence we have received relating to our policy. In a letter to the Premier on May 8, from Mr Frank Chapman, chair of the Provincial Bingo Charitable Activities Association, he said, "I'm writing to express how appreciative we are of the initiatives to support charitable fund-raising that were announced by the Minister of Finance."

That's because he recognizes as well as I do that there is a significant problem with what is happening in the province both with regard to video lottery machines and with regard to what we have known as Monte Carlo nights.

He went on to say: "In the public debate over gaming in recent years, our sector has often been overlooked. Your recognition of the significant contribution of the charitable sector and volunteers to our province and the role that charitable fund-raising plays is very important to our membership.

"We support the new move towards permanent charitable gaming halls, including video lotteries, and we are looking forward to working closely with your officials on their implementation."

He concluded by saying: "Thank you again for your efforts on our behalf. It is clear to us that you wish to define government as a true partner in our efforts."

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Who drafted that?

Hon Mr Sterling: That is not drafting. One of the members across alleges that we put words into the mouth of Mr Chapman. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It's quite clear to any reasonable person that this government is determined to implement these gaming initiatives in a very cautious and careful manner. We have had a significant problem with what we have known as Monte Carlo nights across the province of Ontario. Monte Carlo nights have occupied some 9,000 nights in the province of Ontario encompassing some 3,000 events. One of the problems with these Monte Carlo nights is they were set up for the benefit of charities, but charities are only receiving $12 million of $100 million in profits out of Monte Carlo nights.


Hon Mr Sterling: I'm asked where all the money's going. The problem is that these are very inefficiently run and the fact of the matter is we cannot properly control or exercise authority over these Monte Carlo nights.

We have been urged by the charitable community, "Please get these particular events into permanent sites" because then they will be operated in a more efficient manner and also we will ensure that the charities get a fair shake. We are estimating that charities will no longer get $12 million from Monte Carlo nights, they are going to get somewhere between $80 million and $100 million from permanent charitable gaming halls. That's a tremendous increase in terms of the benefit that charities are going to get out of essentially the same activity.

One of the matters, which was raised to me by a number of members, including the member for High Park-Swansea, the minister from Scarborough-Ellesmere, was a problem in some of their constituencies with what we call problem licensed establishments. These are establishments where we have liquor licensees who are flouting the law. We would send in the police to charge people with offences that were occurring in these particular premises. We would call hearings. We would have them called in front of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and these operators would totally disregard the needs and the wants of the neighbourhood there.

We are introducing in this legislation the toughest laws to deal with these bad actors in Canada. If a liquor licence is revoked, the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario will have the authority to freeze that premise from receiving another liquor licence for a period of two years.

Community groups in Parkdale, community groups in Scarborough are sick and tired of going to the liquor licence board, expending a great amount of time and money to hire counsel to bring these people to heel only to be met with the transfer of the licence to another person who carried on the operations the next week, the next month or three months down the road.

This does in some ways compromise property rights because in fact we are not only dealing with a licensee who may be a tenant, but we are also dealing with the property owner.

I want to tell you, Mr Speaker, that we had a discussion -- I guess we shouldn't talk about discussions in caucus. You may know that my caucus and my party are very concerned about property rights, but on this issue I want to tell you that the support within the Progressive Conservative caucus for this amendment was unbelievably strong. This party has recognized the needs of the neighbourhood over the needs of the individual owner, in this case, and find that this particular amendment, this strengthening of our liquor licence laws in the province of Ontario, is entirely justified.


I realized that some parts of this legislation will be difficult for members of the Legislature to accept. I must admit that on certain occasions I questioned certain parts of the legislation myself, but together this package, I believe, number one, recognizes existing problems that are there in our province of Ontario. This particular piece of legislation deals with those problems in a direct and meaningful manner. This legislation deals with a significant problem we have with gambling addiction in a real and meaningful manner. This legislation deals with a difficult problem we have with a small number but very bad operators in the liquor licence area in this province.

This action, this particular legislation enables us to go forward with these initiatives in a slow and measured way to ensure that as we go down this road, we will ensure that it is done correctly, that young people will not gain access to these gambling and gaming activities and that we will do it in a controlled fashion.

I believe that, overall, this package is a very good package that we will put forward and it will not only ensure that gaming and liquor laws in the province of Ontario will be stronger, it will also ensure that the agency, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, will be a much stronger organization to deal with those problems as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The minister has attempted to justify this terrible piece of legislation by talking about 55 other things contained in the legislation. If he wanted to bring forward legislation to deal with the other matters and not try to slip in video lottery terminals along with it, one could say we could consider the other matters on their merit.

For one thing, he's merging two boards, which means what he's going to do is have fewer inspectors and fewer inspections taking place. He's going to have fewer employees and that's exactly what's going to happen with this.

We can be assured that there will be no video lottery terminals in the Albany Club, the exclusive rich persons' club in Toronto often frequented by Tory cabinet ministers and others in the high echelon of the Progressive Conservative Party. They will not have the machines in there even though those people will have the most money to spend on the machines because they'll be getting the most benefit from the tax cut, the 30% income tax cut which is going to largely or to the greatest extent help those who are the richest and most powerful in the province.

I'll be interested to hear this evening the words of my friend the canon from High Park. Maybe I've elevated him to the position of canon. It wouldn't be that, but I will elevate him tonight to the position of canon from High Park on the matter of video lottery terminals, not the other bogus stuff you're throwing in with this bill to make it palatable to him. The member for York-Mackenzie who has spoken out on family values on many occasions -- I want to know how this is going to enhance the family values of this province by bringing in video lottery terminals eventually in the bars and restaurants of this province.

The minister speaks of bad actors. The worst actors in this case are the members of the provincial government who are sanctioning this awful kind of gambling, the most insidious kind of gambling. I know it will enhance the numbers at your Tory fund-raisers as representatives who own the bars and the restaurants and other places who are going to have these will fill your coffers, but there's an awful price to be paid by the most desperate people in our society.

Mr Pouliot: I'm truly appalled and shocked. In a mere 12 years, I never thought that we would have the unspeakable pursuit of the most vulnerable. What's next? Will the minister who should protect the consumer forge an alliance with the Minister of Education and have one in every classroom, and maybe for the little ones have a set of stairs so they can go and deposit at the altar of sin their weekly allowance? They've gone straight for the gutter. Everybody else is advocating games of chance in the confines of a well-managed and well-monitored casino, not every establishment, where people will simply get ripped off. This is obscene; this is porcine; this is an attempt at the very most vulnerable to grab every last dollar in their pockets.

The minister says, "We shall return 90%." There isn't a casino in the world that does not return 95% to slots. There isn't a casino in the world -- pass, don't pass, make the point; dice and craps, 1.7%; blackjack, 4.5%. But this ripoff artist, some would say this thief, will go and grab 10% and rake it in because they have become insatiable. Shame on all of them. I don't want to be associated with these kinds of ripoff artists. Unbelievable.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Mr Speaker, I hope the member for Nipigon will contemplate his words of accusation, using the word "thief." I suggest that is rather unparliamentary.

I say to the minister that while the subject of video lottery terminals is a very difficult subject for a lot of members in this House and certainly not just the member for Lake Nipigon, who seems to have his wonderful flair for the dramatic tonight in dealing with the subject -- but I remember sitting in this House, because he and I were elected at the same time, in 1985, and he talks about being here 12 years. I think he needs a lottery terminal, because it's only actually 11 years that we've been here.

In any case, I remember that member voting in favour of the introduction of casinos in this province, and I don't think we can stand here and pontificate with such self-righteousness on one subject, having dealt previously with another. I would like someone to tell me, what is the solution to the fact that we have $10 billion per year in Ontario in illegal gambling? That in itself is our deficit. We could pay off our deficit. If we talk about video lottery terminals and this legislation putting them under some kind of control, perhaps we will solve the problem of 18,000 to 20,000 of these VLTs that are operating illegally, bringing in $2,000 a week on average, $1,000 for the owner and $1,000 for the operator. This is a problem that exists today. The introduction of this legislation hopefully will help to make some controls in some areas, and that would be an improvement.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I'm not sure whether I will have an opportunity to speak in some greater length on the legislation that has been put before this House, because this is an issue on which the members of our caucus feel very strongly. We have a long lineup of people who want to address the issue and to express our concerns about the further introduction of video lottery terminals or slot machines outside the existing commercial casino, or casinos, as it will become plural in a very short order.

I have to say that I find it absolutely incredible to hear the member who has just spoken use the government argument that because we are losing dollars in illegal gambling, we should therefore make gambling more legal and be able to get the government's fair share of those lost dollars. It seems to me that if we were going to deal with every problem that we have with illegal operations by legalizing the operation, we would have a very different kind of society in this province. That is exactly what we're going to have as this government not only introduces slot machines in locations other than commercial casinos but brings in legislation which allows a proliferation of these slot machines with virtually no controls over them at all.


If I have an opportunity to speak at greater length on this issue, I will want to address in particular the introduction of video lottery terminals in charity casinos. I personally think there are reasonable grounds to suggest that charities could have a permanent casino base with a maximum bet of $25, an alternative for many communities to introducing the big commercial casinos. Those would be truly charity casinos where all the dollars that would be gained there would go to the benefit of charities in that community. That's clearly not good enough for this government that is decidedly on a revenue grab to help support its misguided fiscal agenda where it needs money to be able to deliver its tax cut commitment. They want their share of the take, and the take from a charity casino that didn't have slot machines wouldn't be good enough for this government so they are going to bring slot machines into the charity casinos. They're going to take their cut from that and, in turn, other charities are probably going to be losing money as a result.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Carleton has two minutes to wrap up.

Hon Mr Sterling: When it comes to gaming one is always struck by the holier-than-thou attitude that we hear from across the floor. I remember the Minister of Environment who was so adamantly against video lottery machines. He was the only Minister of Environment I have ever seen in the province of Ontario to introduce his own lottery: Cleansweep. The signs went up across the province that we were going to have this new lottery which was ostensibly to take care of the environment, but in fact the money was going to go to the central funds of the province of Ontario. The Minister of Environment didn't carry off the ripoff because he recognized that it wouldn't sell. As we went into the 1990 election, this was going to be his play.

I don't know how much credibility we give to the former Minister of Transportation, the member for Lake Nipigon. I didn't hear his concerns over addiction, over gaming with regard to the introduction of casinos in the province of Ontario. I, as a member of this Legislature for some period of time, had heard lectures from the member for Nickel Belt and the other members about their concern over Lotto 6/49. They were concerned about lotteries, the spread of lotteries, and how evil they were. When they got in government, what did they do? They created casinos for the province of Ontario and they expanded gaming significantly. They took a huge amount of that money for the province of Ontario.

Lastly, the Leader of the Opposition: I find it strange that her argument is based upon the takeout of this. She's not concerned about the people who are betting; she's concerned about where the money goes. She's not concerned about the people who are going to be affected by this legislation, so I discount her arguments in total.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): Mr Speaker, before I start, I would like to ask for unanimous consent to divide the time allocated to the Liberal Party for its leadoff speech between myself and the member for St Catharines.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? It is agreed.

Mr Kennedy: Also, I'd like to ask the consent of the House to permit the NDP to speak up to 30 minutes between the two Liberal speakers.


The Deputy Speaker: I'm sorry, there's not unanimous consent.

Mr Kennedy: Mr Speaker, is that your ruling?

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed?


The Deputy Speaker: It is agreed.

Mr Kennedy: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is not with great pleasure that I rise to address the House tonight, because what is left, as usual, to the opposition parties is to tell the real story of what the government has in mind in terms of the legislation that's been put forward. We wish this invasion of the video lottery terminals were only a bad B movie, because we're talking about not a few not-controlled environments, but 20,000 to 40,000 of these slot machines which will be in every neighbourhood of this province. They will be a form of hard gambling that we haven't really seen before in terms of what we've exposed people to out there in the general population.

What this legislation indicates is a number of qualities of this government that are really coming to the fore as it tries to scramble its way out of this session. This legislation is really about a government that is prepared to ignore the experience of many other jurisdictions and introduce what has been accurately and with a tremendous amount of supporting documentation referred to as the crack cocaine of gambling. What we have here in these mechanical devices is all of the allure of video games, with the same kind of attraction, particularly to younger people, and the addictiveness of any of the harder forms of gambling.

We have as well the unfortunate and the very first proximity of alcohol and gambling side by each, because it is very clear when people hear about this bill that the video lottery terminals we're talking about are headed for neighbourhood bars. This is the clear plan of this government, the clear intent of this legislation, and the very unfortunate characteristic the government chooses to display again tonight as it asks for the public's trust in essentially doubling the amount of gambling activity taking place in this province is to not provide the very basic facts, figures and outlook that would allow the people of this province to judge the actions of this government.

Once again instead of the actual implications of what the government chooses to do, what we have is misdirection. We have indeed what others have called this government at other times, but most appropriately tonight, a shell game. What we're not being shown, what we're not being allowed to see is this dramatic increase in the amount of gambling taking place in the province.

For example, the Minister of Finance, in introducing this idea, spoke only about the money going to charities, would not deign to talk about the fact that the vast majority of the funds, some 78%, will be coming directly to government coffers. This is not about the money going to charity which was referenced, the $180 million that he spoke about, which is only 10% of the take. If we look at that 10%, what that implies is $2 billion worth of gambling activity. There may even be a requirement for more than 40,000 machines to be brought into this province in order to satiate the appetite this government has, which itself is now truly proving itself with this bill to be addicted to these weaker forms of acquiring money.

I think it is indeed a character flaw of this government being revealed very clearly in the choices it made as it put this bill together. In the instances of other jurisdictions in Canada, in the United States and elsewhere in the world, proof of the kind of insidious gambling addiction these machines can lead to is very documented and has been experienced by every jurisdiction that has brought them in. Yet we have this government unable to stand front and forward and say to us: "This is what we want to do. We're so desperate, our financial projections are so far off in terms of what we intended to do, that we need this money." As we can understand the gambling and other addictions that exist in society, we perhaps can begin to understand this government.

Just as on a similar issue this afternoon when the same minister introduced another bill and talked about the trust in this government, we learn instead that $9 million worth of revenue that used to be collected by the government is being given back to deregulated industries. The minister stood up in this House to say he thought it would not be the case, only to be contradicted by his own staff in committee hearings.

We really have to wonder why it is this government won't provide the most elemental of facts in terms of its intentions with important pieces of legislation like this. What this will mean to average people out there is that gambling will have another and much more insidious form in which to touch their lives. What we're talking about here is a form of gambling that is hard gambling, that is very much more similar, in the views of people out there and in the experience of how it plays out for people, to horse racing and to other forms of hard gambling and has very little to do with the bingos and lotteries which people have come to associate as some kind of benign form of gambling.

What we have in terms of the experience of other jurisdictions shows that this government is taking on one of two characteristics, and there really isn't, in anything the minister said tonight, in any of the things we have in the limited information the ministry has put forward, anything to contradict these two characteristics: that either we have a government unable to put forward its agenda, which has really only a Comic Book Revolution, 20 pages of things it would like to do but with no idea of how to get there -- it smacks of a certain level of incompetence to believe this government would not draw on the experience of all these other jurisdictions that have been using this form of gambling for public revenue with tremendously mixed results, with now growing concern among the public and among governments. To believe this government wouldn't know that, wouldn't address that as it introduces this bill, is very alarming indeed, to think this is the quality of deliberation this government is capable of.


The other feature which is possible in terms of explanation for the bill we have in front of us tonight is that this government deliberately intends to take this social cost, that this government has decided somewhere -- we heard the minister refer tonight, and it's in his bill, to a 2% solution, when the rates of addiction that exist for video lottery terminals are now 5.5% in Alberta and higher in other jurisdictions. The government can create a whole new problem, which in terms of pathology is just like a different kind of disease, and then propose some inadequate treatment that will somehow salve its conscience.

What we have to hear from people across the province as this bill gets its consideration is how they're not willing to let the government get away with that kind of presumption. The very idea of doubling the amount being spent on gambling in this province inside of one to two years -- the government also will not reveal its timetable, but when you look at the numbers, the minister, speaking to the Toronto Sun, spoke about an initial 8,000 machines, then a further 20,000 machines, which talks to us about a very, very rapid deployment of these bandits, called computer robbers, because that's what they end up being for the families and the individuals affected.

When we look at the experience elsewhere in the country, as recently as 1994 Alberta chose to cap the number of slot machines they put into their various establishments because of all the concerns that have started to come forward about addiction-related issues. When you hear the stories from that province, you really have to appreciate that this government either isn't willing to listen or simply didn't think hard enough before bringing in this legislation. I think the characteristic that is starting to really stick to this government is that perhaps it's both. Perhaps this government isn't really in touch with how to make some of these hard decisions and rather, instead, is taking the easy route every time. This government is unable and unwilling to look at the implications that its decisions have for the quality of life in our province.

We look at the experience, for example, in Manitoba. The Manitoba lottery policy review says that slot machines, even if they're in age-restricted areas, which is the only qualification this government is prepared to put forward at this time -- it has to be a place existing in licensed areas that can be somehow restricted, and there's no enforcement specified. The Manitoba lottery review said they're fully visible to youth, as attractive to youth as video machines, and there's nothing to be gained by that kind of particular regulation. Instead, you've got a generation raised on video games that you're now going to be going after for their scarce dollars.

The underpinning of what makes this a particularly pernicious initiative on the part of this government, why it really deserves everyone's attention, not just those in families who could be prone to be drawn in by these machines, not just those who have a general concern for the kinds of things happening in society, but in general, is that it represents an attack on people made desperate by this government. Unfortunately, various studies show an association between this form of gambling and people on reduced incomes, people with limited prospects. With that knowledge -- we certainly have nothing from this government to say it has anything on the offsetting side of research, that it's done any studies, that it understands anything else about the impact -- that this is the kind of attack that will happen, they are not only going to proceed with video lottery terminals on every street corner in terms of every neighbourhood bar, but they are going to promote their acceptance throughout the province and do it at a pace and at a rate that means that before anybody out there realizes it, we'll have this form of gambling among us.

This is not simply a game; this is far too serious for that, in terms of what is being debated here tonight. It is about a change in the kind of gambling we have. These machines have the ability to capture people's attention, as they did for a woman in Nova Scotia, whose husband became so upset with her obsession, in terms of how much of the family's income it was taking, that he was arrested for breaking up and destroying the video lottery machine that was the source of her entrapment. The Nova Scotia government in 1993 took two thirds of its slot machines out of the establishments they were in because of its concern.

We have various governments elsewhere acting in a direction completely the opposite of the measures the government is proposing and which we're discussing here tonight. Why didn't this government consult with Nova Scotia? After having talked about discussing with people around the province, after having given written assurances to all manner of groups which inquired that when it came to this electronic slot machine, when it came to this pernicious kind of gambling, it would take some time, it would look at what people were doing, why has this government decided to go ahead in such a hasty fashion? And why, indeed, is this government proceeding in a way that hides its true intent? Why can't this government come clean and say that this is what it has to do at this time, and get the proper public input in terms of understanding of what the government is doing? Instead, it hides behind charities, hides behind measures for licensed establishments which have nothing to do with its primary intent here.

The answer, I guess, is that the government is itself showing the characteristics of an addict. Like an addict, they're really clutching at straws in terms of their rationale for this. On the other side, for those of you who will be speaking tonight, we would like to hear one good reason you would want to introduce this particular form of gambling to this province, beyond your need based on your miscalculation, based on your desire to give a tax cut in this province that you couldn't figure out how to finance.

There isn't anything else to explain going from a handful of electronic slot machines that exist in this province to 20,000, perhaps as many as 40,000, before the end of the next two years. There is nothing else that explains this government's actions than the pursuit of money and the pursuit of money in a certain kind of way and a certain kind of form that is as telling about this government as it is about the general problems we have for gamblers in this province that are about to be enlarged by the introduction of this legislation.

The government has decided to take the low route in terms of introducing this legislation, has decided not to talk directly about what its intentions are, because it knows that the result of an Angus Reid survey says that 54% of Canadians are against video lottery terminals, and that even though other jurisdictions have them, those that have had them longest are most against this. This government appreciates that if people really did realize what was coming to their neighbourhood, that there were going to be mini-casinos happening right in their own backyards, the government would probably have to withdraw the legislation. The government doesn't want to deal with the very real social problems attendant upon its decision.

We look at a single mother in Halifax who found herself in such an awful position vis-à-vis her addiction to VLTs, stealing from her place of business to finance her addiction, that she wanted to take an axe to the VLT and was only stopped at the last moment. Or look at a gentleman in Halifax, an unemployed cook, who lost $40,000 and almost committed suicide because of his addiction to VLTs.

There is no dispute about the pernicious quality of this particular form of gambling. This is not fun, this is not gaming, this is about a decision by government to go after money from people who are particularly weakened in society. I think it would have to agree that some of that weakness has come from other measures this government has put forward in its first year in business.

When we look at the kind of problems it has brought for people in terms of their family life, in terms of putting their houses at risk, for many of them -- and these are not exaggerations; these stories have been documented in all the inquiries that have taken place into the use of video lottery terminals across the country.

The jurisdiction of British Columbia decided not to have these things. British Columbia made a decision that this government isn't even prepared to ask itself. This government, unfortunately, is too afraid to even put the question: Do we want to go down this road? Do we want to take on a form of gambling that is demonstrated to hurt so many people, or do we want to do the responsible thing and take the time to understand these kinds of measures before they're put forward? This government is unwilling to do that. It's method of communication about this has shown that, and the basis for its legislation has shown that very clearly.


Despite what it has said at every occasion it's been given, this government is not only going to put these into casinos where it already exists; it's going to put them in brand-new places called charity gaming houses and it's going to put them into neighbourhood bars where there's absolutely no control being exercised by the government. This is not about controlled environments. This is not about the government taking care in terms of how it introduces this form of gambling.

This is an out-and-out rapacious grab for money. There is nothing else that explains bringing gambling, and gambling of this particular variety, side by each with alcohol. That's what this government has done: It has decided to prey on people, not only in terms of their general state of desperation, but also when they're inebriated.

As other members have already put it, there is a certain kind of low being marked by this bill here today. There's a certain kind of tolerance and acceptance being shown by the members opposite in promoting this bill that we probably haven't quite seen the quality of in the other measures being put forward here today. But we have, in terms of the discussion this bill provides us, at least the chance to start to alert the general public out there of some of these qualities that are starting to manifest themselves at the just-beyond-one-year mark of this government.

Even many places in the United States -- in Wisconsin they've decided not to introduce video lottery terminals in bars. They've made the decision not to have these slot machines in the neighbourhoods where they're more accessible to youth, where they're going to be outside any kind of control, any pretence of control by government. Wisconsin, which this government has cited for many other programs, has decided not to go down this path that the 81 members opposite have decided to trot down. In West Virginia, similarly, they've decided not to have video lottery terminals, and Nova Scotia has made similar decisions.

The reason they've done that is that some of them have actually come to terms with what is proving so slippery for this government to do, that is: What is the nature of government responsibility when it comes to a moral issue like this? Are there no limits to gambling? Is there nothing we want to do as legislators to stand up and say to people out there about how we want to impact the quality of their lives?

I think what we have to agree about on this particular issue is that the root of this is a government that wants taxes, despite what it said to people, but is too afraid to ask for them. It instead has to find another route to go, another route to take in money from society than it has gone before, and to do it with all these attendant risks. The checklist of things that exist for people: Compulsive gamblers -- and this is the most compulsive form of gambling that's been identified -- generally are members of society more likely to attempt suicide, to be part of family breakdown, to write bad cheques, to embezzle money, to do other crimes, to go bankrupt, to land in court or jail.

In other words, we invite, because of the short-term allure of this type of revenue generation, these associated problems. When we do it in this fashion, I think we are showing a characteristic of the government and we're showing -- and this is important for the rest of us to consider -- a weakness on the part of the rest of us. If we indeed let this legislation go through, if we take this way of dealing with serious problems that deserve a much more serious response, if the only way we can come to terms with the gap between the public will to provide the revenue we need and in finding really effective ways to provide services is to introduce these kinds of things, then it is a low mark, I suppose, for the province as a whole.

The effort that will be made by this side is to ensure that if this province adopts this type of measure, this way of bringing in money, it will do so with its eyes open. The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba shows there has been a large increase in average spending since the introduction of electronic slot machines. As a perspective that's available to anybody out there, the people in Manitoba, since the introduction of this particular kind of gambling, spend more on gambling than they do on basic foodstuffs.

What we have is a change that talks not only about the morality of some of these things, but also about the practicality. This is drawing money from the health and wellbeing of people, and it's drawing money -- and this is the other thing this government needs to take into account, because, as with a number of its other ventures it has introduced in the past year, it may find this to be a road not only that we shouldn't have gone on in the first place, but that leads to nowhere. Instead of coming up with new money for this government in terms of the money that goes into those video lottery terminals, those slot machines take money away from other discretionary spending.

What you've had in front of you -- and it's very clear that the exact form this government is taking is a report by the restaurant and bar industry of this province. Once again, when we look for the source of an initiative, we find it not so much in the government benches but from some of their friends. This whole legislation, this whole approach in terms of how to market it, is that they've taken the temperature of people in Ontario and found that if they talk about the deficit at the same time, public support goes up marginally, and if they talk about charities, support goes up even more. These are the kinds of calculations that we can't even say this government has done on its own; they have been done for them, and they are slavishly following them right now.

If we look at the prospect of following in the footsteps of some of the other provinces, we really ought to be completely ashamed because of the consequences known there. An estimate comes out of Alberta that some 125,000 Albertans have become addicted in varying degrees to VLTs since they were introduced in that province a few years ago. In Manitoba, 1,400 people were treated for addictions to these slot machines last year, and that infers a rate of 14,000 people minimally. The resources available in Manitoba, where similar token gestures exist, are about the same as would be proposed here, and there aren't enough of them.

We're out to create a class of social problems we haven't seen before by way of accelerated compulsive gambling. We do it knowing. I'm sure, in terms of the information we've been able to find that was probably previously available to this government, had it made the effort, it's known that that is indeed what we're doing. This is not a bill about, as it is perversely named, advancing the public interest, but about stripping the public interest away in a very harmful way. We are not giving to the people of this province any level of decision-making any more about the legitimacy of their government in terms of where their dollars come from, but instead we're following that path of least resistance. That path of least resistance is one we have to be very concerned about.

The whole nature of government responsibility is what we're being shown here tonight: that this government is unable to come to terms with the exact thing it was elected to do some 13 months ago. Instead of finding ways to deal with the responsibilities of government, it has decided to take a route that only requires it to exploit weaker people in society. There's nothing else involved here.

I invite people out there, when they start seeing these slot machines, if we're not successful in stopping these slot machines from coming to every neighbourhood, to recognize that what they're really getting is a symbol for this government. They're getting a machine that employs nobody, that produces nothing and that is geared to take advantage of the very desperate people who have been produced by other measures of this government in the first place. There is no other way to describe the slot machines this government is purporting to put into every bar in this province.

We have to keep in mind that this addiction is only a beginning. We have to show ourselves, those of us who can be detached from the kind of blindness that has been shown on the opposite side, and have to be very clear that even the 20,000 to 40,000 of these machines that the government needs to meet its own revenue targets may not be enough and it may go down the route of some other jurisdictions. We had a promise from the opposite side that it would not introduce more of these machines than existed per capita in any other province. There are only 3,200 of them in Quebec, and this province will exceed that by at least double in its initial rollout of this machine.

We are not seeing any consistency from the government side. Pardon me: We are seeing consistency from the government side in terms of promises that fall by the wayside, and in this case in the face of the most crass expediency. We are indeed finding, if not an IQ test, then certainly a character test for this government in the legislation we have. When it comes to the hard gambling this represents, there simply is no ambiguity. When we look at the kind of experience that has existed in the States, they say that because electronic gambling machines are relatively inexpensive -- they only cost about $5,000 per machine -- and need no supervision, they really are only money machines.

There's nothing else that can be said for this. This is not like some of the arguments that have been made. This government has decided, for reasons, to prop up the racing industry in different parts of this province and has done that on a basis at least of certain levels of employment to that part of the gaming industry, to parts of the agriculture industry. There is none of that in these machines. There is nothing being generated in benefit for society. Instead, we've got mechanical hardship and pain, which is what these devices are going to dispense, along with a little bit of earnings they're going to give back to people as they take very high takes, as other members have said, away from people.


What we found in South Dakota, where slot machines have existed for the longest period of time -- and people need to get a conception of this -- is that the largest percentage of people who spend more than $50 a month are hooked on VLTs. For hard gamblers, that's their gambling of choice. The per capita losses ran about $150 on average for each resident, just on those electronic gambling machines. That approximately represents the average we have in this province right now.

It is not exaggeration to say that these new slot machines coming to your neighbourhood are going to double the amount of gambling taking place in this province. That has to be a conservative estimate, because if you look at the experience in South Dakota, in 1991 it collected four times as much from these slot machines as it did from all of its lotteries. Lotteries in this province return to the government some $645 million, but the capacity, the vile potential of these machines is to do four times that. The following year, the state collected nine times as much from these slot machines.

We see a government willing to get into this embrace with these machines at this kind of cost. It is willing, knowing that these machines are going to have a harmful effect, knowing that they are particularly opening up new vulnerabilities for people who are already vulnerable; it's prepared to proceed. When we look at the legislation, we look in vain for the kind of protections this government spoke of when it spoke of controlled environments; there are no protections.

The only thing this government will do is ask the people who dispense video lottery machines to register with the government. I can't imagine anything more passive than that. It's going to require, through the liquor licence laws, some degree of sanction on those establishments which have liquor licences. We will find ourselves with the same enforcement problems multiplied because of the kind of behaviours that have already been described which exist; that is, it'll be enforced by no one. Who will indeed enforce this and what kind of capacities will exist at the new bodies this government is talking about? Or will it fall back on other governmental bodies which are already, thanks to other measures of this government, hard pressed to provide that level of enforcement?

This is an exact epitome of the kinds of measures this government has been introducing all year long. They're only half-baked; there's no sense of taking responsibility. At least with this one, despite what we've heard from the opposite side, they are not going to be able to blame previous governments. The previous governments at least did their gambling in controlled environments where they could speak of a level of government or government body supervision. That can't be the case with these video lottery terminals.

They're coming to your neighbourhood bar, and for all we know, once they're in your neighbourhood bar, as they did in Nova Scotia for a while, as they do in various parts of the States, they could be coming to your neighbourhood grocery store. There is no knowing because the limits do not exist in the legislation we're being asked to consider tonight. There is no staged introduction; there are no official numbers from this government. It is only when it's in conversation with the Toronto Sun and other important places in which it wishes to dialogue -- not in this House -- that it's prepared to table some of the numbers that start to give us an accurate picture about what this government is doing in its growing obsession with video lottery terminals.

We have the examples that exist from elsewhere. We understand that this is not simply about the kinds of problems -- there was a statement from one of the members opposite that part of our dilemma was, how do we capture $10 billion being spent on gambling in this province? Inherent in that statement was no sense of: Why do we want it? Why do we want gambling money to run the government? Why do we want to double gambling money to run the government? Why do we want to sanction that kind of activity? Is there no check and balance when you're faced with this particular government?

Why has that become the kind of question this government is afraid to ask? Why won't it ask itself that? We can sanction any manner of criminal activity taking place out there, we can look at any of the addictions that exist for people and exploit them further, but we're not prepared to put even the same sanctions in terms of these video lottery terminals that we put in terms of alcohol or other controlled substances. We're prepared to have people sit there and sit there. As long as they've got the money, they can continue to give the money away. Instance after instance exists all across Canada and in the United States of places where people have done exactly that.

We have a report from Alberta and the Calgary Herald of January 27, 1995. Gambling addicts appearing before a tribunal there talked about cashing in their RRSPs, taking second mortgages on their homes, getting maximum cash advantage on their credit cards just to feed their addiction. What you've seen there is that yes, finally there is some business created: for psychiatrists, for people who treat gambling addicts.

This is the only direction this government is headed in terms of any semblance of economic development: to create a pathology and then to create a very small and inadequate industry to deal with. What those people have learned in the treatment of this is very clear and it came from the psychiatrists' association in Alberta when it said to British Columbia, "Don't do this." I'm sure, honourable members, that if they knew what you were up to tonight, they would say the same thing to you, "Don't do this." Why do you want to go down this road? There's nothing to be gained there except -- and this requires you to admit this -- money at any cost for this government without any check and balance. We see in Alberta and British Columbia that at least they've started to put limits. This government has put in no self-prescribed limit ahead of time. As I say, the only limit we've seen is that they're prepared to put these machines into rooms that can somehow be controlled for age. There's no specificity about that; it's not something we can rely upon.

Neither can we rely upon, as I've already indicated, the only other measure of restraint on the part of this government that it promised; not in the legislation, but it promised somewhere else that we might have the lowest per capita incidence. They've already violated that in exceeding Quebec in terms of the original intentions of this government, in terms of the revenue projections they're talking about. We are dealing with at least 40,000 machines eventually in province. That is not a government with a plan; that is a government with an out-and-out hunger for a certain kind of money.

As we address this debate, we have to talk about what this money means. This money means a government that is unable to do the very tough job that I suspect some of the people who cast their ballots in its direction thought it might be up to, and that's to reacquire for government some of the moral authority to get support to do what needs to be done in this province. That is simply a measure that this government is unwilling to take when it takes the easy route represented by what we have in front of us today. It's really that kind of consideration that everybody in the province needs to be aware of. There is no other basis under which we can understand the intent of this legislation.

When we look at the cost, there's a moral cost and there's an economic cost in terms of the money that's diverted from the kinds of expenditures that actually have a multiplier in society, that actually employ people. Gambling is simply a dead end. It's another form of tax because it goes directly into the government's pocket, and this government has shown that the purposes to which it's willing to use this particular measure of raising money have no limitation.

When we look at the diversion, it's going to happen not on a grand scale, it's going to happen right in those neighbourhoods. It may even happen in those same establishments, those that find the restaurant side of their bar and eatery no longer gets the same kind of business. It's going to happen in terms of the people who find themselves selling other kinds of goods in their community. Because this is a vacuum; it is like a vortex that collects up discretionary dollars.

This government has not one study to show that new dollars will be generated. It has chosen, in its presentation of this legislation, something that I find really quite disturbing, but unfortunately in the short time I've been here I've seen it repeated over and over again. When the government wants to do something that it's not prepared to talk about, it instead talks about a charitable initiative. When it wants to take money away from mothers and fathers to feed their children, it then talks about a charitable initiative of a breakfast program for less than 5% of the children who are affected. When this government wants to do other measures, it introduces a motion to support a tax credit that only comes from the federal government in the name of supporting charities.

I can tell you as somebody who's run a charity that you're fooling nobody with that. It may play well to the general public, it may show a side that I believe exists on the other benches, but it's certainly not being expressed in the measures we hear being made in the name of charity. In the name of charity, this government made commitments before the last election that it would consult and talk to people in this province and thereby assess the implications. While this is being promoted as a great big boon to charities, what you have is this organization located in the same office as the Ontario March of Dimes, saying: "What's going on? What is this government doing? They said they would be looking at the implications of this and notwithstanding that, they're going ahead with this." This is a charitable sector, organized, that part of the charitable sector, that small part that depends on gaming revenue, saying to you, "What are you doing?" Hopefully, that question is starting to form in many minds across this province and you start to get some of those questions.


I believe, honourable members, this is something that needs to tickle your conscience; it needs to find its way in on whatever way this has been rationalized in terms of your internal caucuses and discussion, to the extent that they've taken place. Because I think we find ourselves scrambling to explain, scrambling ourselves to be charitable with the kind of approach that you've taken here tonight, that when we see the amount of pain and hardship you're going to be inducing into this province, not by picking up on some pre-existing thing and trying to make it better, but simply by introducing these slot machines into every neighbourhood, that we see a bias. The bias is simply for a very narrow agenda; the bias is not to take responsibility for the actions that this government is initiating. We certainly find all of those characteristics in the legislation that's been put forward today.

When we look at the various implications of this legislation and this invasion of new forms of gambling, we want to put forward very clearly that the position of the Liberal Party is not to increase and not to make legal any of these video lotteries outside of casinos. What we want to see instead is this government come to terms with this addiction that is starting to show. We wish to act as the initial psychiatrist for this government. Just as it will create a tremendous amount of business out there for psychiatrists, we want to counsel it before it goes too far and we want to provide to this government that sets a perspective, that this is something it needs to get control of before it's too late. Just like an addict, it needs first of all to get in touch with the real world.

The real world that this government needs to deal with is the kind of world where it says it's going to balance the budget and still give away a tax cut. That isn't real, folks; instead, that's based on a lack of contact with reality. It's the kind of thing that leads you, perhaps in good faith, to believe that these measures you're introducing tonight somehow will not have a heinous effect on families, on individuals all across this province, that somehow you are unable to do what the government of British Columbia decided to do when it initiated plans for 5,000 terminals in that province and after the kind of public response that it decided to go out and listen to and that it got, it changed its mind.

You too, ladies and gentlemen, can change your mind. This is something that is incumbent on this government to do in the face of what it's presented to us so far. This may be one of the worst pieces of legislation that has come out of this government, because it has not even the pretence of a rationale; there is absolutely nothing in this province that requires this particular form of legislation except a government that is unwilling to talk to the public in a clear fashion and say its financial plan doesn't add up.

I think it's very, very clear when its Minister of Finance says, as he said in this House a couple of weeks ago, that the amount of money being collected by these slot machines won't be significant for the deficit, and then we find that the government's own predictions show, to the extent that these are projections they're prepared to stand on, a minimum of $400 million net that will be coming to this government -- it could be easily as much as $1 billion, and to get that $1 billion there is a count we can't provide but which we and you can also assess the sense of, the sense that comes from hundreds and thousands of situations of pain and hardship, of additional criminal activity that takes place as people struggle to feed this new addiction.

This is a juncture at which this particular addiction doesn't exist in this province, and this is something the honourable members opposite and the minister will have to take full responsibility for, for changing that kind of complexion and for recognizing the particular environment in which they introduce it. This is an environment in which they've cut welfare by 22% for the poorest people in this province. This is an environment where they've created a huge degree of insecurity for people in average jobs. This is an environment where it's taken no initiatives to try and find better jobs for people and finds itself instead going along with the outsourcing that's taking place that busily brings down wages for individuals. Instead of really coming to terms with itself and its requirements, this government is trying to find the low road, the back way in. That's really the most unfortunate part of what we're seeing here today: the government is unable to have a generalized debate on these exact measures. It's not willing to put in front of us -- I would challenge the minister to table the exact figures of how many machines it's prepared to do.

We see in the small print for this legislation a government that says somehow it's going to go to an outside agency to implement this. This government is so terrified to actually take responsibility for its actions that it's going to hire someone to do this for them. We've got to wonder which kind of gambling establishment, which kind of gambling centre will it have to do its dirty work in this case and how much more removal of our accountability will we get when that particular entity is put in place, because this is a measure for which this government should stand up, tonight preferably, and explain to the rest of us why it is doing it, when we had the minister speaking for only a very brief period of time, when we have the minister not willing to share with us the very basic facts about this.

Does this government have studies to prove that there is an economic benefit to be had from this at all, or will it harm the charities that are currently engaged in gambling? Will it harm the neighbourhood establishments that will lose revenue because of the discretionary dollar that's going to go pouring into these slot machines? Will it harm the fabric of society in terms of the costs that it brings and the hardship? Why won't this government, when it's on the very verge of doubling the amount of gambling that's taking place in this province, introduce those studies? If those studies don't exist, why won't this government withdraw this legislation? Why will this government persist? Does it really, truly believe that somehow out there that mandate it received 12 months ago gives it that kind of disconnectedness from the public, that it's a mandate they don't have to exercise in this particular case some sense of moral questioning about what its measures are?

I want to say, because I know from the member opposite that they are leery of that kind of judgement from this side of the House -- and it's not a judgement. It's simply particular to this case, that when we talk about doubling gambling there is a moral component to that particular decision. When we look at the basis under which this government is not prepared to come to terms with doubling not only gambling but probably tripling the hard gambling taking place in this province, because there's only a much smaller amount of revenue that comes from hard gambling right now -- when it wants to make that decision, it should take the responsibility. Taking that responsibility means tabling the studies, tabling the figures of how it plans to roll this out and not hiding behind some nebulous entity that it won't even describe in terms of who's actually going to do the job of implementing video terminals in this province today.

No one opposite, no one else in the province, can hide behind the fact that it would like to take comfort that this government does in some way know what it's doing, can take comfort in the idea that this government is introducing this in a controlled fashion. There is no possible way the government can reach its revenue predictions. It's inherent in the legislation itself, in the references to the Liquor Licence Act, that these are headed for bars in your neighbourhood, and you should suitably be ashamed.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I would like to thank the House for the unanimous consent that was granted in order to allow me to go in between the speeches of the leads of the Liberal Party. As most people would understand, we've been rather busy these last couple of days on leadership and I was hoping to get out of here at a half-reasonable time.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Your guy got in.

Mr Bisson: My guy got in.

Anyway, I want to thank members and I want to start off by saying, let me put on the record: I do not have an aversion to gambling. I think that is a fact of life. It is something that some people do. It's not for everyone. I don't have a problem with casinos. I quite frankly have not gone to one myself, either in Canada or the United States, but I understand many people in many communities across Ontario see that as a way of relaxation and a way of being able to spend some time of enjoyment. If they're able to do that within reason and not lose their shirt, as we might say, I don't have a problem.

I was listening to the debate a little bit earlier about people talking about the NDP government's move to introduce casinos in the province of Ontario. I voted for that in government, I want to put on the record, not because a government that I was a member of was putting that forward and the Premier told me to do so. I quite frankly don't have a problem with it. What I do have a problem with is where this legislation is taking us in regard to what I would consider to be one-armed bandits of the worst type. I would like to get into some of the reasons why and I'm going to be somewhat reasoned in doing so.


The first thing I've got to comment on is the title of this bill. This government has a huge habit, every time it puts a piece of legislation together, that it gives it a title that is spun out by the spin doctors of the Conservative government.

Mr Colle: They're trying to hide something.

Mr Bisson: Exactly, that they're trying to hide something. I always worry about titles that read something like this. Members would know this, but maybe people watching the debate would not. This is Bill 75. In short, this bill does a couple of very important things. The first thing it's going to do, it's going to deal with the question of allowing the government to set up what they call VLTs, video lottery terminals, otherwise known as one-armed bandits, in licensed establishments that serve alcohol anywhere across the province of Ontario. I would think that the bill would talk about that in some sort of way. But what it says here is, "An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming."

I guess the buzzword in here is this whole idea of funding charities through the responsible management of video lotteries. I want to come to some detail of that because I, as other members of this assembly would know -- and we've done a lot of work as members in our own communities, working with charities, helping their applications before the gaming commission to be able to get a licence to sell Nevadas or a licence to run a bingo or whatever it might be in order to fund the work that they do within their communities. It is a very difficult thing, at best, to raise money within a charity, and really one of the big problems I've got with this legislation is, once you start allowing VLTs or one-armed bandits, as we might say, to be set up in competition with charitable organizations, you're really taking away from the ability of those groups to raise money, and I'll come to that in some detail a little bit later.

Let's deal with the first part of the act, because there are three basic parts to this act, and I'd just like to go through them in some kind of detail. The first part of the act establishes a commission. This commission will bring together what is called the Liquor Licensing Board of Ontario and the Gaming Commission of Ontario and put it under one piece of legislation and put it under the auspices of one commission.

Are people opposed to trying to find ways to find efficiencies? I think all members of this House within all three parties would say no. If there's a way of doing that, if there's a way of bringing together the services of those various agencies under one roof and you can save a buck, not a bad idea. But I have some real problems in regard to what this is going to mean to the employees of those particular agencies.

What did the government do back in the fall of 1995? They passed a piece of legislation called Bill 7. There are no more successor rights. The employees who work at the LLBO and the employees who work at the gaming commission have no assuredness within the law that they will have some dibs at the jobs that will be created under this new gaming commission.

I understand that the government doesn't like public sector employees. Really, this is what this is all about, and I understand that the government believes that the private sector can do it better and they have a certain philosophy of doing things. But certainly, if we're talking about common sense, there has to be a certain amount of common decency as well. You have employees who have worked within those agencies for years, they have done so in good faith, they have done the job to the best of their abilities and I would say probably better than most people would out of the private sector, and they are being rewarded for those many years of service possibly by looking at a pink slip, not because there's a reduction in size, but because the government will have the possibility of, when the commission is created, not taking employees from the LLBO and from the gaming commission.

I say, shame on the government. If the government is going to do this, whatever amount of employees are left over, we should try in some kind of way to bring the employees of the LLBO and the employees of the gaming commission into this new organization.

I notice that the member for Etobicoke -- I always call him the member for Bedrock, but he's the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale -- is looking at me a bit quizzically, but the point is that these people have worked for the government, which you are a member of, for many years, worked under our government and worked under the Liberal government before that and they should be allowed a certain amount of decency. One of the big problems I've got, along with a lot of other people in this province, is that loyalty of employees to the government is basically out the window. The government is saying: "We will turn our backs on those employees and we gave ourselves the right to do that under Bill 7." They've given themselves the right to do that under Bill 26 in some cases and it looks like they're going to do that under this piece of legislation.

Those employees who are under the auspices of OPSEU at the gaming commission, and the employees under the liquor control board union, working at the LLBO, and the members of AMAPCEO within the management groups might find themselves in a very tough situation as a result of this legislation and seeing their jobs being gone and not having the ability to work at the commission. I think that is wrong and I think the government should address that. If you're going to move forward and you're going to bring those commissions together, we understand that; you want to find some efficiencies, okay, fine, but let's do that in some kind of a way that we're able to bring people into that new organization from the existing one.

Further on in the bill there's a really interesting -- and the member for St Catharines is going to like this one -- part of this legislation. It's under subsection 3(3) of the bill. Listen to this. It reads: "The commission shall exercise its powers and duties in the public interest and in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity and social responsibility."

A couple of things come to mind when I hear that one. The first one is, I think the government's worried. I think the government itself is recognizing in this legislation that one of the big difficulties with video lottery terminals is it's a cash business. Did you know something? A cash business means to say that it's a business where people will put money into the slots and there are no receipts issued. The reality is, there are all kinds of possibilities for all kinds of things to happen in regard to fraud or not reporting income on the part of the people who run these pieces of equipment. The government is concerned about that and it has showed that within the legislation.

The other point is that it's the first time that I've seen this government, in the year that it's been elected, where it's actually used those three words anywhere. What you've got is a government that in the race to drive its economic agenda forward, that is going to favour a few people within our society, and because it will benefit some at the upper-income scales, they have done so at a time and at a cost of pushing people down and out of the system so that if you're at one end of the system and you happen to have a few bucks and you happen to have a bit of power, you will do well and you will benefit under the Mike Harris Conservative government. But if you're at the other end of the income scale, or if you're somewhere in the middle as middle-class earners somewhere in the province of Ontario, you stand to lose under this government.

What they are doing in this legislation that I find quite interesting is to talk about social responsibility -- this from a government that has not taken any social responsibility since it got here and, in fact, has gone quite the opposite way in regard to how it deals with its responsibility as a government. We have seen, time and time again, the government introduce legislation in this House that has done that, that has gone opposite to the ability of the government to make sure that the needs of people are properly dealt with, and that programs are put in place and kept in place in order to deal with people and their needs.

We are seeing everything from rape crisis centres close down -- I ask members of the assembly, is it because there are no longer issues of rape in the province? I would think probably not. I would think that activity still goes on, but the government has decided that it will close rape crisis centres and counselling centres for women across the province of Ontario. I just find it interesting that the government in this legislation would utilize the words "social responsibility," and I say again, a government that has not taken this particular piece of its legislation to heart in anything that they've done up to now.

The other thing that this particular section deals with which is interesting, clause 3(4)(a) reads, after that it will establish a commission using the principles of honesty, integrity and social responsibility:

"(4) The board of the commission shall,

"(a) inform and advise the minister with respect to matters that are of an urgent, critical or relevant nature...."

I have sat in this House for the last three weeks with every other member of this House where the member for London Centre, Marion Boyd, has raised day after day in this House the question of ministerial responsibility on behalf of the minister responsible for corrections. Every day the member for London Centre has stood in this House, along with other members of my caucus and then later on the Liberal Party getting involved, with the minister who is responsible for the safety and the care of the people within his institution, and all the way through the minister has said, "I know nothing, I see nothing and I do nothing." Then I stand here in this House and read this legislation, and it says in their own legislation that they will "inform and advise the minister with respect to matters that are of an urgent, critical or relevant nature." I find these words in your legislation passing strange when you have a habit as a government where ministers of the crown take responsibility for absolutely nothing.


We have a situation in our corrections institutions where an incident has happened where we know for a fact that the minister should have been advised, according to all of the due processes that are set out in the ministerial system that exists within corrections, and I would suspect the minister knows but is not saying anything because he decided not to take action because he wanted to side with the police in this particular investigation. I would also suspect that the minister basically was not being very -- I can't use the words. Some would say that the minister might not have been truthful in his response to the House -- not myself, Mr Speaker, but I think other people might have said that. I find it passing strange that in a piece of legislation, they would turn around and they would say that the board and the commission shall "inform and advise the minister with respect to matters that are of an urgent, critical, or relevant nature" when the minister of corrections cannot be advised or says that he's not advised or says that he doesn't know or he hasn't heard absolutely anything in regard to what's happened at London-Middlesex or at the other institution.

It's here in the legislation. I'm not making this up. This is what they put in here. Moi, j'en reviens encore à la question : quand on prend le temps, comme le ministre M. Sterling a fait, de dire dans sa législation ici, dans l'article 3, qu'on va informer et conseiller le ministre sur les questions urgentes, critiques ou pertinentes qui exigent l'attention du ministre, pourquoi ne prend-on pas ces pratiques-là comme gouvernement ? Moi, j'imagine que c'est peut-être parce que le gouvernement ne veut pas prendre ses responsabilités ou que le ministre essaie de nous faire croire que lui-même n'a rien fait et qu'il ne connaît rien et que ce n'est pas de sa faute et qu'il va blâmer tout le monde, toutes les autres personnes dans la fonction publique.

I say it's just indicative of the government, because any time something goes right, they're the first ones to run out and say: "We did it. We take all the credit and responsibility. Boy, if something's happened in the economy that's positive, it's us that did it." But the minute something goes wrong, as we've seen in this particular issue, the ministers are the first ones to try to blame the civil servants or somebody else for what might have been a foulup within their ministry. I say you may as well get used to it. You're the government. You're the guy with the chauffeur-driven limousine. You're the fellow with the big office at the ministry office. As Harry Truman once said, the buck stops there.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): Who's got a chauffeur-driven limousine? Come on, give us some names.

Mr Bisson: Well, we know that you don't have a limo because you're a parliamentary assistant. You're not allowed a limo as a parliamentary assistant. Anyway, enough of that one.

I would just say again that if you're going to put something into legislation as a government and you're going to say that it is the responsibility of the civil service and others to inform and advise the minister with respect to matters that are of an urgent, critical and relevant nature, you would at least take the time to practise what you preach when it comes to those particular words.

Moving on to the second part of the legislation, the Liquor Licence Act, I guess the minister can take it as advice, a friendly suggestion, in regard to existing problems within the legislation. If we're going to open up the Liquor Licence Act, I would ask that the minister take a look at two issues -- issues, I imagine, that have been raised in other constituencies, not only in my own. One is the issue of carryover permits when an existing establishment that sells liquor closes down for whatever reason and a new owner or a new person who takes over the establishment tries to reopen and get a carryover permit. Presently within the legislation, what we're permitted to do within a certain time period is to get a carryover permit to allow the new owner to take over the business and not have to worry about having to be closed down and running through all of the posting procedures to be able to get a new liquor licence to serve liquor in the establishment that's been taken over.

I can tell you, as the member for Cochrane South, having dealt with various applications from Timmins, and I would imagine government members and other opposition members have seen the same, that the carryover permit part of the legislation has problems in it. There are certain circumstances where they will not allow a permit to carry over. The poor person who happens to take over the business invests a lot of money to be able to come in and take over the business -- $20,000, $30,000, $50,000, $60,000, depending on the size of the establishment -- thinks that he or she is going to get a liquor licence because there was already a licensed establishment there with a liquor licence, and because the former employer, the former owner, didn't pay the retail sales tax or for other particular reasons, the permit is not transferred over. Then it gets into a big shemozzle trying to fix that, with all the time -- they're sending candies across the House to each other here.


Mr Bisson: Slot machines -- exactly. But what ends up happening is the carryover permit is held up and the person is not able to deal with the question of getting that permit. I would ask that the government look at the carryover permit section of the legislation in order to deal with that.

The other issue to take a look at is in regard to liquor licence application. The government talks about red tape, and the government talks about trying to move through the process issues of being able to reduce red tape. This is one area that we should be looking at. You know as well as I do, as members, because I'm sure by now after a year you must have had somebody in your constituencies who wants to start up a liquor establishment or wants to start up a restaurant, having to wait an enormous amount of time to be able to get an application. It is not because the LLBO doesn't do its job; it's not because the bureaucracy is not good; that's not the issue. The legislation itself is fairly rigid in regard to how long we have to post, how long it has to take. There are guidelines set out about how long the whole process has to take.

In fairness to the people who drafted the legislation originally, yes, you want the community to know a new establishment is coming in; you want to allow people to have the opportunity to comment; you want to make sure that there's good public discussion about a new establishment coming into place. But there has to be a better way of doing it in regard to the legislation, trying to tighten up some of the time lines.

The other issue is, I have one particular case right now in my riding, where there was a clubhouse at our local United Steelworkers hall on Mountjoy Street, where the existing establishment closed down and never reopened for a period of two or three years, and the new owner, Mr Toal, who's tried to open up a new establishment, had to go through that entire process because it was considered a new business. The bar ran for years. It was there for 20 years. Nobody ever complained over the period of 20 years of having that establishment, but he had to wait the whole period of the process to get a new licence, which was a very big inconvenience for him in regard to being able to move forward with his business venture. I would ask the government to take a look at that.

Let's get to the crux of the legislation. I just wanted to put those comments on the record. They're issues that the constituents have raised with me; and whenever you get an opportunity as a member, I think it is our responsibility to bring forward those issues when we get the chance to do so.

Let's deal with the question of what this bill is really all about. What this bill's about simply is this: The government is having to give people a tax break. They promised in the election of 1995 that if they were elected, they were going to give people a 30% tax break, and all would be well after people get that tax break; and they're delivering. The government, in the budget of 1996, has brought forward the first part of that tax break.

But where the problem lies is how they're going to pay for it. So the government is scurrying around trying to figure out where it can make a buck. The government, quite frankly, is coming over with one-armed bandits, or slot machines as they might be called, to be able to find a way to pay down the money that they're losing on the tax break. I say to the government, we shouldn't be mincing words here; we should be fairly clear, be straight.

We as an NDP government put in place casinos. Why? Because we needed the revenue. It wasn't a policy decision that we were in favour of gambling or not in favour of gambling or we wanted to do whatever. The issue was that as a government we needed to find ways to make revenue. The government brought forward the possibility of doing that through legislation, and we set up the first casino, which has turned out to be a very big success in the city of Windsor. It has meant literally thousands of jobs for the people in that community; it has meant a huge increase in revenue possibilities for the businesses in that community with the trade that comes in from people who come in to play the casino and, as well, it's been a good investment for the province of Ontario. With the casino being set up, the government didn't have to increase taxes as much as it would have needed to if it hadn't done that.

So why don't you be clear? The Tories are doing this. Why? Because you gave a 30% tax cut and that you as a government are giving people a tax cut and trying to find a way to make money. But the problem is, when you get into these slot machines, I think you're creating a whole bunch of other problems that are really going to deter from what your intentions are in regard to revenue generation. You are going to be going into direct competition with charities in our communities: the people at the local church halls that do bingos in order to raise money and in order to be able to pay for some of the charitable work that they're doing in our communities; the various community organizations there that utilize Nevadas to be able to pay their way, to be able to help everything from community sports organizations, kids' hockey teams, baseball teams; the various activities that might go on in regard to the work that various charitable organizations are doing.

You are going into competition with them, and the reality is that there is far less money in our communities now than there was a year ago. People don't have the disposable income, quite frankly, that they had a year ago. Why? Because a lot of people have lost their jobs over a period of time.


The government likes to tout that it's created new jobs. Yes, you've created some jobs at seven bucks an hour and there's not a lot of disposable income left. But the point is, you know as well as I do -- and go and talk to your charitable organizations in your communities, talk to the people who are dealing with Nevadas -- the numbers are going down. If the government allows individual bars in the city of Timmins to put slot machines in, that means to say money that would have been put in a Nevada box or money that might have been paid at a local bingo hall or money that might have been in some sort of charitable gaming is going to go to that slot machine.

In the zeal for you to get your dollars to pay your tax break, you're taking away the money from the charitable organizations, at the same time that this government is cutting on the other end in regard to the money that it spends on its own programs. Mike Harris and the Conservative government have said often: "We want people to do things on their own. We think that we should give people a hand up. We think that we should allow communities to find their own solutions to be able to move in where the government has left." If you really mean that, why are you moving into competition with these people? That is my biggest problem with this legislation.

People are going to play slot machines in Nevada; people are going to play slot machines in a casino. I understand that. It's a contained area. The person is going there specifically to that community to do that action of going to a casino. It's a bit of a different situation. I don't have a problem putting a slot machine in a casino. But if you start allowing slot machines to go into places like the Balmoral Hotel and the Senator Hotel and whatever other establishment out there, it means to say --

Mr Colle: Where are those hotels?

Mr Bisson: In Timmins. It means that people in my communities --

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): The Senator?

Mr Bisson: The Senator Hotel; you probably have stayed there, wonderful establishment. But the point is -- I'm making a point. Maybe I can do advertisements here in the House. But the point I'm getting at is that once the government allows those establishments to go into the business of having slot machines, it means to say people in my community, who are no different than anywhere else in North America, are going to use those slot machines. Rather than putting the money in a Nevada box or putting the money in a charitable bingo, for somewhere to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night when the bingo's going, they might go to that slot machine. That money could be better spent in our communities on those charitable organizations because they're doing the work that your government is asking them to do in the first place. I think the government should come to terms with that.

Up to this point, when it comes to charitable gaming, the only revenue that government has made in charitable gaming has been in the licensing. The government has never moved in this province in saying, "We want a cut of the money that the charities are going to be making in the province of Ontario," but that's what you're doing with slot machines. You're going to be taking 50% of the revenue of those slot machines to the provincial coffers and that means to say there's going to be far less money within our communities across Ontario to be able to raise the money they need to sustain the activities they do as charitable organizations.

I say to the government, you're wrong. I don't have a problem with slot machines in themselves. I'm not going to sit here and be holier than thou when it comes to slot machines. I've never played one before; I haven't been to a casino. I might at one point, I'm not opposed to it, but I think there is a time and there's a place for everything. I think slot machines rightfully belong in a casino. That's where they should be. That's where they can be controlled. People who go to Windsor to the casino are going there for a particular reason. It's a bit of a different situation.

But I'm telling you, in our communities, everywhere from Sarnia to Lambton to Timmins to Iroquois Falls or to Kenora or Sudbury, wherever it might be, those communities are hurting now. Those communities are really trying to deal with how this government's agenda is dealing with people. There are people in my community, like yours, who are a lot worse off since you've come to government. That's a reality. Their welfare has been reduced. You can't say that's not true -- 22% reductions. I can tell you, in communities such as mine there are fewer good jobs being created as compared to $7-an-hour jobs. People have less money. Those charitable organizations are filling the gap as best they can for those people, because they can't rely on government because of what you guys are doing. You're saying at the same time that you're going to go into competition with charitable organizations. I say to you, that is wrong. You shouldn't be doing that.

The other point that is interesting is that the government I think is admitting that there is a real problem of addiction when it comes to slot machines. We call these the crack cocaine, I think is the term that people utilize --

Mr Colle: The crack cocaine of gambling.

Mr Bisson: Yes, the crack cocaine of gambling. It's not without a reason. Let's understand that a lot of this is addictive. One of the reasons I don't choose to go to casinos is that I know myself. If I were to walk into a casino and start to play a slot machine, I would probably empty the rest of the money I've got into it because I tend to be a fairly compulsive person.

The thing is that there is a problem when it comes to addiction on these things; you can't say not. I think the government is admitting it. Sure there's a compulsion part to --

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): There are slot machines in Windsor.

Mr Bisson: I'm not saying otherwise. I'm saying the difference is --

Mrs Marland: That's different.

Mr Hardeman: You opened it.

Mr Bisson: Just listen to the argument. The government has its time; this is our time. I'm not opposed to slot machines overall; what I'm saying is that you have to admit there a problem of addiction even in casinos. What's happening is that I think the government is recognizing in its own actions, by diverting 2% of the revenue over to a program to deal with addiction and compulsive gambling, that there is a problem. I'm just saying to the government that you have to look at that. Do we want to enter into a time in the province of Ontario where a person can walk off the street and play a slot machine at the corner hotel? Do we want to go down that route?

One of the members is shaking his head yes. I'm saying no, I don't want to go that way. When it comes to the question of gambling, you want to control that fairly well. Why is it that years ago in the province of Ontario, for example, as across the rest of this country, we decided to set up liquor control boards? We wanted to deal with the question of how we dispensed alcohol within our society because we didn't want to make it a free-for-all. We said: "We recognize there is a problem with alcohol. Yes, there are people who can drink responsibly and people who can't. Somehow we have to control that to a certain extent."

If the government takes a policy direction and decision of saying, "We're going to allow slot machines to go anywhere in the province of Ontario," we're getting into a very difficult situation. "Situation" might not be the right word, but we're getting into a very strong possibility that people are going to really have a problem in utilizing these machines in excess of what they actually should.

I say to the government that I will vote against this legislation not because I'm opposed to gambling; I'm not opposed to gambling. I like to play cards with the best of them. I won't do it in a casino, though.


Mr Bisson: Well, I don't know if that's right. Anyway, the point is that I'm not opposed to gambling as such, but I am opposed to what the government is doing by moving slot machines into the communities and allowing money to be diverted from charitable organizations into government coffers at a time when the government itself is cutting dollars to those community organizations.

In the communities of Matheson, Iroquois Falls and Timmins, which I represent, the community charities will have a much more difficult time once this legislation is put in place. I want to put on the record that I am opposed to this on the basis of what it's going to do to the charities within these communities.

I would also ask that the government take a look at the question of carryover permits under the Liquor Control Act and also the length of time it takes to move applications through the system.

With that, I would like to thank the members for giving me the opportunity to participate in this debate. I look forward to the government's response.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Mrs Marland: Is "forked tongue" or "doubletalk" unparliamentary? I don't think "doubletalk" is unparliamentary; "doubletalk" certainly isn't unparliamentary. I have just heard a beautiful example from the member for Cochrane South of exactly what doubletalk is. You're saying that you're very concerned about the impact of gambling, even to the point that you made a comparison of the addiction to crack cocaine to the addiction to gambling. If it wasn't such a serious subject, it would almost be humorous to hear you make that comparison, because I can assure you that if you went out on the street now and you offered to take the first crack cocaine addict you came across for a game of poker, a game of cards or a game of dice or something else, do you think he'd accept that rather than his cocaine? The degree of dependency and addiction isn't comparable, I would suggest to you.

However, I would suggest to you that our government is showing responsibility for people for whom gambling is an addiction. Whether or not we legalize it, it is an addiction, and we are allocating 2% of the profits to help those people, which is 100% more than you did when you brought casinos into this province. You as a member stood in this House and voted in favour of casinos and yet tonight you stand here and you're stating your concern for the charities. You didn't do anything about the fact that of the $100 million that is collected every year from Monte Carlo nights in this province, supposedly in the name and in aid of charities, only $12 million actually reaches the charities. We are going to establish permanent charity sites.


Mr Colle: I'd like to commend the member for Cochrane South for a very thoughtful overview of the impact of these slot machines. He's right; in all the literature, whether you look at the Edmonton Journal or the Winnipeg Free Press, the Globe and Mail, they refer to the VLTs as the crack cocaine of gambling. It's surprising that the member opposite doesn't realize how addictive these machines are, and maybe that's the problem, that the members opposite haven't done their research, they haven't seen the impact of these machines.

They are as deadly as crack cocaine. They are highly addictive, to the point of being almost mesmerizing for people, and they're making the most vulnerable people in society possible addicts to these machines. They will ruin a lot of young people, they will ruin a lot of families, as the member for Cochrane South said, because it's the most vulnerable in society, the most prone to addiction who will be brought to these machines, the people who have no defence. They will be the ones caught in the web of the crack cocaine of gambling, the video lottery terminals.

I hope the members opposite will investigate the impact of these machines and the impact they've had on people all over the world where they've been introduced. They are horrific. They do not allow any leeway for people who are victimized by these machines, which not only hurt individuals; they hurt families, they hurt neighbourhoods. This government has the audacity to put one in every restaurant and bar in this province. They are dealing with a devil with these machines.

Mr Flaherty: I listened with interest to the speeches from the member for York South and the member for Cochrane South and the context in which they spoke about ulterior motives by our government and the impact of machines. They neglect to mention of course that every province in Canada has these machines except for British Columbia and this province, to attribute those same ulterior motives and that same lack of caring I gather to all of the provincial governments in Canada except for Ontario and British Columbia so far.

It should be noted also with respect to this legislation that there is an amendment to the Ontario Casino Corporation Act that allows revenues from Casino Rama near Orillia to flow directly to the first nations' fund rather than through the government's consolidated revenue fund. This will facilitate our government's commitment to the creation of a fund that will benefit all members of Ontario's first nations.

I'm pleased, in response to the comments by my friends opposite, to have the opportunity to support the bill and the controlled introduction of video lotteries for the benefit of charitable organizations across Ontario as well as for the benefit of the horse racing industry in this province. The strengthening and rationalizing of the regulations regarding gaming activities and alcohol service will provide the necessary enforcement and support to make this initiative successful.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I commend the member for Cochrane South for a very thoughtful and provocative speech. He outlined quite well the nature of the issues at stake. The member for Mississauga South of course said, "When you were in power you did this" -- tit for tat. The question I think he was asking was: Have you done your homework? What kind of research have you committed yourself to and what are the impact studies?

It would be like saying that we're going to put a certain chemical into the drinking water of a particular municipality, but as long as there's only 3% or 5% who will be adversely affected, it will be all right.

The point is, how far do you have to go? You have to go to such an extent that before you know it, this government will be handing out portable, hand-held slot machines to gamble away the resources you have, and the literature suggests that this is dangerous. When you talk about the motivations of all the other jurisdictions, look at all the other jurisdictions. Almost every one of them has somehow relinquished the full extent of their implementation. They've taken a second look at it. They've withdrawn them from certain facilities, and we're merrily moving ahead. Why? Because it's being driven by a frenzy to find resources.

What happened to the soul of this party that said they had family values? They said they were worried about family, they said they were worried about young people, and now all of a sudden they turn the other eye because we need money, money, money, money. I suggest to you, and mark my words, that you will be modifying this after the fact when you see the impact this will have on a lot of people who will lose those resources.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South has two minutes.

Mr Bisson: I'd like to thank the members for Oakwood and Ottawa Centre for their comments. I especially liked the comment at the end. It is a very good point. This government has sort of lost its whole idea of family values, because, quite frankly, that does play into this. It's an angle I had not thought about.

I want to say to the member for Durham Centre, he talks about how everybody else in Canada is doing it, so why shouldn't we do it, and we should follow their example. We looked at this as a government when Bob Rae was the government of Ontario. We looked at this as a possibility for raising revenue in the province of Ontario. We recognized that it might raise as much as $1 billion a year, depending on how you implement it, but we decided against it even though the revenues were high. Why? Because we recognized that (a) there is an addiction problem; (b) it does lead to the questions of petty crimes within the communities and various elements getting involved with this that we wouldn't want to have involved, from organized crime and others. The other thing is the whole question of what it does to charitable gaming. We, as a government, said the price is too high. You have to be able to balance off the public good against your need to be able to raise dollars.

I would say to the member for Durham Centre only this: I would much rather see you stopping the tax cut as a way of dealing with your financial problem than moving forward with video lottery terminals, otherwise known as slot machines.

I just say to the member for Mississauga South, her rationale was that I voted for casinos and I'm now voting against video lottery terminals. If the member for Mississauga South is listening, I would just say I remember very well the member for Mississauga South, along with the entire Conservative caucus, voting against the introduction of a casino in Windsor, and at this time she stands in this House and says to me, holier than thou, that she's now going to vote in favour of putting in place video lottery terminals. I say to the member for Mississauga South, you sure can pick your times and opportunities maybe a little bit better.

Mr Bradley: I would ordinarily say I appreciate the opportunity to speak on a piece of legislation. Tonight I do not, because I was hoping we would never see from this government a piece of legislation which would allow for the widespread introduction of video lottery terminals or electronic slot machines in the province. I was hopeful that this government, which had members in opposition who spoke vehemently against many forms of gambling, would not have embarked upon what I consider to be a very unwise course of action on the part of this or any government.

I well recall the speeches in the House. I admired Ernie Eves, my friend from Parry Sound, when he sat just a few seats away from where I am and made some outstanding speeches on casino gambling in this province. I well remember Mike Harris, now our Premier in this province, making similar speeches and indicating a great concern about governments gathering funds by means of gambling ventures, particularly new and different gambling ventures on the part of the government. So with the words of Ernie Eves and Mike Harris, our present finance minister and our present Premier, I was somewhat assured that we would not have video lottery terminals introduced in this province.

In fact, I remember being asked by members of the news media, because the budget was upcoming, whether I thought the government would be introducing video lottery terminals, because I know considerable pressure was being put on the government by the hotel and restaurant association in Canada, specifically the Ontario division of that. I indicated at the time that my best guess was, particularly from the words of the Treasurer not a few weeks before that, and the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Mr Saunderson, that the government would not be doing so. I was very hopeful that that would indeed be the case, and I would have commended the government on that. In fact, I was complimentary of those members today on the government side who have advocated against this extension of gambling in our province in years gone by.


I think of the people who ran on the family values platform, some of the members who in their campaign literature talked about how important family values are. I agree with those people that they are important, and I wonder how they can justify supporting this piece of legislation which eventually allows the introduction of video lottery terminals, these electronic slot machines, into bars and restaurants in your neighbourhood across Ontario. It seems to me that the same people who speak out on other moral issues have an obligation to speak out on this particular issue if they are to be consistent. I've not seen that happen, though I know the debate will allow for others to speak and perhaps some of those members who have expressed strong moral views on a number of issues coming before us will in fact speak on those issues, and I will be very pleased to hear from them.

This provision for video lottery terminals has been placed in the bill where it's disguised. You have to know what the government's up to in this bill. There should have been two separate bills. We could have debated the merits of one bill which dealt with certain regulatory and administrative changes with the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery Corp and putting boards together. We could have talked about that, debated it on its merits. Unfortunately, what the government has chosen to do is bury this, or attempt to bury it, in this piece of legislation. I think if it merited that much in terms of praise, the government would have had it in a separate piece of legislation.

The excuse that the government uses -- and I hear government members now repeating what the Treasurer has said, as though somehow they can have no thoughts of their own. They simply repeat that, well, there are all of these illegal video lottery terminals across the province, so why don't we legalize and control them? I think there is a fair comparison. There is crack cocaine out there that's illegal and that's purveyed by many people. It's illegal to sell it, it's illegal to use it, and I happen to agree with that. But just because it is illegal to use or sell it and it's widespread doesn't mean the government should take over that business, get into the business and make a profit from it and somehow legitimize it. So I don't think that argument's a strong one at all.

All the government has to do is simply enforce the laws of this province. The Solicitor General is in the House tonight. He and I have agreed on many things in our years gone by, and that is on strong enforcement of the laws we have in this province. What the government has done instead is abdicate its responsibilities.

The other problem I see with this is -- I want to go into a bit of a history of gambling in the province. I remember my good friend the former member for St Catharines-Brock: before that, Brock; I think before that, Lincoln. My friend Bob Welch was probably the minister of tourism and culture at the time lotteries were introduced. I know him well and know he wasn't particularly a great fan of lotteries to begin with, but it was considered in the beginning that a Wintario ticket would be $1 and it would help to elicit matching funds from others in our community. The government, in other words, would invest $1 and the volunteer sector would invest $1. But this began to escalate. We changed; we had different kinds of lotteries. The payout became greater, the attraction became greater, and then it started to be instant lotteries, where I'm told you scratch and win immediately.

So what we're seeing even in the beginning is an escalation of gambling activities. It would start out as something fairly innocent. The Wintario fund started to escalate. We then get from lotteries into offtrack betting. Again, offtrack betting seemed to be pretty attractive to some people, but what it did was it gave more opportunity for people to gamble.

I remember making a speech in this House a couple of years ago about the effect of offtrack betting on a certain restaurant or tavern I knew of in my own community. I was not very complimentary, because what I pointed out was that the people who at that time were frequenting the offtrack betting weren't the regular customers. They weren't spending the money on food or on beverages and they weren't the big-time tippers with the waiters and waitresses in that restaurant. I remember getting a call from the owner, who was rather annoyed with my comments in the House, but what happened was, about a month and a half later the owner asked that the offtrack betting be removed, because the owner understood that was what was happening. He lost the good customers, lost the people who were buying the food and the beverages and giving the good tips to the employees. That restaurant has come back very strong, has a good clientele, and I think the owner is probably happier now. So that was another escalation.

Then we had casino gambling. Some of my colleagues in the House, of all parties, think casino gambling is fine. I don't. But just as I accept today that there are lotteries in this province and that's the way things are, I accept that we now have offtrack betting, though I don't like offtrack betting. I accept that we have casinos, even though I don't like the casinos. Some of my colleagues did; some of my colleagues did not.

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): What about bingo?

Mr Bradley: The member asks about other things. There are other minor forms of gambling that take place in various halls in the province, but I don't think it's a fair comparison to use those. The payouts aren't as great, they're not as insidious, it's not as instant as this.

I found casino gambling to be rather repulsive, because I knew it was yet another escalation. It was a more attractive form of gambling. Go into any one of these casinos, I'm told, and if you want to find the people who shouldn't be in there, they're in there. That's exactly who goes into the casinos that we're going to have in Ontario. These aren't the big shots who go to Las Vegas and have $15,000 to spend and to see Frank Sinatra or whoever else they see, a major boxing match in one of these big hotels that they have down in Las Vegas. It's people who don't have very much money. It's the most vulnerable people, the most desperate people. These are not often the people who have an education which will allow them to get a good job, to get ahead in life. These are the people who are not well connected to the influential people, to the powerful people in our society, so they're unable to obtain good employment positions that way. What you have are desperate people that you're preying on, that any government is preying on when it brings in new forms of gambling and escalates gambling.

Some members have said, "Well, other provinces have it." Then I condemn the other provinces, regardless of which government is in power, as much as I condemn this government for embarking on this particular course of action. I don't care if they're Liberal governments or NDP or Social Credit or PQ or Conservative, whatever they happen to be, anywhere across the country.

I remember when we were discussing the matter of casinos before, the former member for Victoria-Haliburton, himself a man of the cloth, an Anglican priest, led a crusade in this Legislature against casino gambling.

Mrs Marland: Dennis Drainville.

Mr Bradley: Dennis Drainville was his name. One of the people he brought here, who I thought was rather interesting, I think was the chair of the Progressive Conservative caucus in Nova Scotia. I could be wrong, but I think the Conservative Party was in power at the time, and here was a person who was condemning what was happening in his own province under his own government, because he could see what was happening. And what was he talking about? Video lottery terminals. It wasn't even casinos he was talking about. He said, "The problem with casinos is they're a step towards video lottery terminals."

Hon Mr Runciman: They still have them, Jim.

Mr Bradley: They still have them under a subsequent Liberal government. They have them in New Brunswick under a Liberal government.

I think the point I've made is that this is a matter of principle to me. I don't care what the politics happen to be of the government bringing it in, I think it's unwise and I think it's detrimental to our society as a whole if any government brings it in or any politician happens to advocate it.


When we get to these slot machines, the reason they're an escalation is that they're so widespread. Access is a big part of addiction. The more you have available -- they're in the corner bar in someone's neighbourhood. We're not in the old days of the governments of many, many years ago where the number of licences was restricted to a very few neighbourhoods and there weren't that many drinking establishments. These will be all over the province. They'll be in restaurants; they'll be in bars.

I know the minister will say: "They're easily controlled. We'll watch out that young people don't play them. We'll try to make sure that people who are intoxicated don't play them." We all know, with the number of inspectors they're going to have -- and this government keeps diminishing the number of inspectors in all fields -- that simply won't be the case. They simply won't be able to be policed appropriately. Even with the best of intentions, which I'm sure the government would have in that regard, they won't possibly be able to do it.

What you're introducing as a government -- video lottery terminals or electronic slot machines -- is the most insidious, the most seductive, the most addictive form of gambling. I have several quotes that I'll use perhaps later on if I have time from people far more expert than I in the field of addictive gambling who talk about how insidious these machines are. You've heard them referred to as the crack cocaine of gambling. People wonder why they use that terminology. The reason they use it is, I'm told, that crack cocaine is supposed to provide -- what do you call it? -- an instant hit or instant gratification.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): A high.

Mr Bradley: An instant high, as the member mentions. The people who are expert in these fields say the same thing is felt in terms of gamblers with that instant result they can get from a video lottery terminal. That's most unfortunate, because that means it is the most addictive, the most seductive and the most insidious form of gambling.

Mr Ford: Turn back the clock.

Mr Bradley: No, I can't turn back the clock.

We have a casino in Windsor. A lot of the people in Windsor are happy with the revenues that come in; the government is happy. We have a casino in Niagara Falls. Certainly I didn't ask for it. When the government used to say to me -- then the NDP government -- "If we were going to put one in St Catharines, you'd be happy," I'd say: "No, you can keep your casino. I don't want one in St Catharines. I don't want all the problems that go with casinos." But we have casinos now, and at least I guess if you're comparing them, they're one place that's well policed and well controlled compared to the video lottery terminals that will be across this province, so widespread.

It's the absolutely worst kind of gambling we can possibly have that you are introducing. There are people who as a result -- and these are not common results, but they are results -- will lose their homes over this. There will be family breakups as a result of the gambling activity when the person who is the breadwinner comes home with no money or has squandered the paycheque that week. You may even see some family violence as the arguments start over this.

You're going to see people who are going to be embezzling from the companies for which they work, from the employer for whom they work, always believing they're going to pay the money back. These aren't crooks who are thinking well ahead of time, "How can I embezzle money and keep it?" They're people who use the money because they're desperate, they're addicted and they always believe they're going to be able to pay that back. Unfortunately, it seldom happens that way.

You're going to see more muggings. You're going to see more theft taking place as a result of this. It may not be a huge escalation, but you're going to see more as a result of the introduction of video lottery terminals.

Why is this coming about? Why is the government introducing it when Mr Eves, our Minister of Finance, the member for Parry Sound, and Mr Harris, the Premier of this province and the member for Nipissing, were so adamantly opposed in the past? I feel that particularly Mr Eves is probably personally opposed to this. Why is the government introducing it? You're introducing it because of your revenue shortfall. Why are you having a revenue shortfall? Because you've decided to embark upon a 30% cut in income taxes in the province. That money has to be made up somehow. Even the people who agree with you on the 30% tax cut, even the people who say it's nice to have a tax cut, even the Reform Party for that matter said in its platform: "We will give you a tax cut once the budget is balanced. We don't think we should borrow more money for the purpose of giving a tax cut. It's more responsible." Your conservative economists across this country say the same thing. I'll bet if you talked -- "bet" is not a word to use, is it, in this debate.

Mr Ford: You couldn't resist it.

Mr Bradley: I couldn't resist it.

I would guess that if you were to talk to John Crispo, who certainly is no foe of this government or any Conservative government, and ask if it would be wiser to delay your tax cut until such time as you had the budget balanced, he would say yes. It would be harder to be critical of it at that time.

But keep in mind one thing: That tax cut will benefit the most wealthy people in our society most of all. Yes, a few of the people in the lower echelons of pay will get a few dollars out of it, and so you can say to them, "We've given you a tax cut," but the people who will benefit the most are the most wealthy and powerful people in our society. Who are you going to tax to make up for that loss? You're going to tax the most vulnerable and often the poorest people in our society. That's most regrettable. It's most regrettable because you are transferring the burden from those who are best able to pay to those who are least able to pay and those who are most desperate.

Where are these going to be located? I say with some regret that they're going to be placed where you're going to find the most desperate people. You will not find video lottery terminals in the Albany Club here or the St Catharines Club in St Catharines, or the York Club, or the Rideau Club in Ottawa; you're not going to find them there. You're going to find them in bars and taverns and restaurants where a lot of people who don't have high-income jobs or people who don't have jobs at all are going to be trying their luck to get ahead. That's what it's all about.

Conrad Black will not be playing these machines, but perhaps some of the people he has laid off as a result of his downsizing so he can make ever greater profits are going to be playing these electronic slot machines. That's very regrettable in our society because I think what we want to look for is a society where there is equality of opportunity, not of outcome. I cannot guarantee, nor can anyone guarantee, equality of outcome. All we can guarantee is equality of opportunity, giving people a good chance, and you take away that chance when you bring in this seductive form of gambling.

The other problem is that governments are now addicted to gambling right across the country, right across North America, regardless of what they happen to be in terms of their political stripe.


Mr Bradley: I can tell the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, who interjects, that these matters used to come before various cabinets. Whenever it was even suggested that there might be a casino introduced into this province, I was adamantly opposed at the cabinet table to any thought that it might be the case. Not that there were people who were seriously putting that idea forth, but there are always people who are proposing to government that it be the case; as I say, the restaurant association and the hotel association.

What this achieves as well -- it's a side benefit to you in government -- is that you're going to get more people at your fund-raisers. I'm sure the hotel association and the restaurant association and the people who will run these various casinos around the province will be standing in line to buy tickets for your fund-raisers. That will help out your party, but at what cost to our society are you prepared to fill your own coffers as a party and the coffers of this government?

Surely if projects and programs are justifiable, normal forms of taxation should be utilized. If they're not justifiable, you shouldn't be getting easy money to pay for these. Mike Harris once said that. I'll find the quote a little later on, but I thought he made a good point. He was talking about the revenue from the casino in Windsor. He said that governments shouldn't be making expenditures based on money that they obtained easily because then governments would get involved in more projects and programs than they should. He made a good point on that occasion.

You are competing with some of the local charities, the local organizations that have run small gaming operations over the years, people who will get out and hustle, make some dollars for a sports organization or some other charitable organization, and that is most unfortunate.


You will lose millions of dollars in this province to addiction. You'll have to pay, as I call it, conscience money in many cases to those who are fighting this addiction. I heard it said, and it was somewhat of a self-complimentary remark in the House, "Isn't it nice our government" -- the new Progressive Conservative government -- "is going to give far more to addiction research and dealing with problems of gambling addiction than any other government?" I submit to you that's because you will need that kind of money because you are expanding to the most insidious form of gambling we have. You will gain revenue, billions of dollars, but at what cost to our society?

I've come across some interesting articles that have been written on this subject in various places, mostly in those provinces that already have video lottery terminals.

The Calgary Herald; this was written on February 1, 1995, by Linda Goyette. It actually says on here that it's originally from the Edmonton Journal. She writes as follows:

"The VLT is the vicious losers' tax. We win a little, we lose too much.

"Let's look at the winners first. It's more fun to think about money that grows on machines than about steady, gloomy taxation.

"The little winner is the sucker who scoops up enough cash from a video display terminal to convince him to pump in twice as many coins. He's a happy guy while the machine bleeps, but he loses his prize faster than he breathes. I don't argue with his inalienable right to empty his own pockets.

"The big winner is the provincial government. It will vacuum $340 million from those taverns this year with no complaint from sheepish VLT taxpayers or the smug citizens who don't gamble themselves, but are quite willing to live off the avails. Gambling revenue is pumped into public services. It helps balance the budget.

"I will grant you that blood money comes in handy, but it can also cost too much. Albertans are paying through the nose for that $340 million in ways they rarely imagine.

"We can begin with the men and women who can't fight a new addiction. A 34-year-old Edmonton woman, with no criminal record, went to jail this month for defrauding her employer of $13,000 to pay for her VLT passion. She had been a bingo lover for years but needed much more money to buy the crack cocaine high of a VLT fix.

"You can blame her for her addiction. You can justify buying a new community hockey rink with her borrowed money, or her stolen money, with the common rationalization: It's a tax on the stupid. Nobody forced her to pour money into that machine.

"True enough. What do you say about her spouse and, particularly, her children? Can we justify taking their rent money or their grocery budget because we want to build a new arena or balance the provincial budget? I don't think so....

"The point is that the VLT is not the equal of a bingo card or a race form. It makes other forms of gambling look like a cake raffle at a pioneer church picnic....

"When Albertans pump $1 billion into VLTs in 18 months, small businesses forfeit a fortune. VLT money buys hopes and dreams -- vapour -- not tangible merchandise and services. It does bring extra customers into bars and taverns, admittedly, but it employs fewer people and creates smaller profits than it would if deposited in other cash registers....

"Nova Scotia, a much poorer province, found the courage to pull the plug on most VLTs for the wellbeing of its citizens and its economy. Alberta can do the same. Yes, we will forfeit the revenue but we will win the grand prize: a clearer conscience, a healthier economy."

I thought it an excellent article by Linda Goyette of the Edmonton Journal.

Another one, from the Vancouver Sun, from Jeff Lee:

"Albertans have some advice for the British Columbia government, which is considering installing video lottery terminals in licensed pubs and lounges.

"Don't. Don't put them anywhere near places that serve alcohol.

"Two years after the Alberta government installed nearly 6,000 of the interactive gambling machines in taverns and pubs, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Addiction Commission is having to treat an unexpectedly high number of new addicts to gambling.

"`Most of those are well-established working people with stable lives who have never had any problems controlling themselves,' said Dayle Bruce, a commission counsellor who specializes in treating gambling addicts.

"A professor who undertook a study of the prevalence of gambling addition for the Alberta government says the best thing BC can do is not let the machines anywhere near a licensed establishment.

"`Tread carefully. If you are going have them at all, have them in gambling establishments or don't have them at all,' said Garry Smith, a University of Alberta professor who headed a study of gambling addiction for the Alberta government.`You're combining two or three addictions, smoking and alcohol,'" and VLTs, "`when you put them into bars.'

"The commission estimates that 5.4% of Albertans are addicted to gambling, making it one of the highest rates in North America. A study done for the commission last year estimates there are between 75,000 and 125,000 gambling addicts there.

"Bruce said the number of people coming to her clinics has skyrocketed since VLTs were introduced two years ago."

So you see an example of what's happening in the province of Alberta with their video lottery terminals.

I go on to an article written by Tom Arnold, the provincial affairs writer for the Edmonton Journal. It reads as follows:

"More than half of the gambling addicts enrolled in a new government-sponsored counselling program have opted for therapy because of their costly obsession with video slot machines.

"Just as many women as men are hooked on Alberta's billion-dollar video lottery industry. They're more likely to be unemployed with limited education, say client profile statistics from the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.

"Of the 1,288 people enrolled in AADAC's gambling programs in 27 centres across the province in the last year...60% pointed to video terminals as a reason for seeking help....

"`They're not coming in saying, "I'm here for gambling addiction." They're saying: "I'm broke. I've just blown this month's rent. My wife has just discovered that I've spent all our RRSPs. My employer has just discovered that I borrowed $1,500 out of petty cash and can't return it."'

"According to the client profiles, about 23%" of the people in this category "have less than a grade 9 education. Another 32% didn't go further than grade 11. Another 29% started grade 12. About 16% of clients are business or technical school graduates or have a university degree."

So you can see who it really preys upon.

An interesting statistic, and my colleague the member for York South quoted this from Manitoba. There was an article in the June 10 edition of the Toronto Star. It was a Canadian Press article, with the headline saying "More Spent on Betting Than Food," and it is sad indeed to see this:

"Manitobans spend more money on gambling than on basic necessities such as bread, milk, eggs and vegetables.

"Last year Manitobans lost about $330 million to government-run lotteries, casinos and video lottery terminals -- $300 for every man, woman and child.

"`For most people, it's just another form of entertainment,' said Addictions Foundation of Manitoba director Herb Thompson. `The problems come when people start spending their grocery money. Then they and their families can't afford the necessities like bread and milk.'

"In Manitoba the basic grocery bill of bread, milk and vegetables totals about $312 million, Statistics Canada data show."

So we see a rather terrible trend happening in Manitoba, which has gone in a big way for gambling.

There was an interesting article that came from the Globe and Mail of May 9, and it read as follows:

"Premier Mike Harris was once one of the most vocal critics of state-sponsored gambling.

"But in a major and little-debated policy shift, Mr Harris has given the nod to legalizing video lottery terminals.

"The change, announced in this week's budget, has angered groups representing gambling addicts, amusement industry operators are not amused and opposition politicians are calling Mr Harris a hypocrite.

"`There is no question that the most insidious form of gambling is the VLT,' said Alan Young, a York University law professor who represents the Coin Operators Lottery Association, a group of pinball arcade operators. The industry fears the machines will destroy their business....

"`The analysis is that VLT gambling is the crack cocaine of gambling,' said Carmela DiFlumeri, the manager of the Addiction Research Foundation's problem gambling project.

"The foundation concluded in a recent publication that `in a world of instant gratification, nothing has captured the hearts and minds of gamblers like VLTs.'

"The VLTs look like slot machines and they allow gamblers to play poker and other games of chance electronically. The machines typically emit noises, such as bell sounds, when a player wins....

"Last year, in one of his more controversial remarks on the election campaign, Mr Harris said he didn't want the government to receive profits from its Windsor casino. He even threatened to shut down this successful tourist attraction."

"`I don't want $1 million a day into the province of Ontario. I don't want the money. I don't want the Ontario government to have it,' Mr Harris said....

"Part of the controversy over VLTs is that they appear to be most popular among economically vulnerable and unsophisticated young gamblers.

"Ms DiFlumeri of the Addiction Research Foundation said surveys show VLTs appeal to young adults and about 10% of users will develop some type of gambling-related problems."


In the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Catherine Ford writes -- Catherine Ford, who you see on television from time to time, could never be accused of being a "leftie" by any chance, because I know the member for Etobicoke West would not want me to be quoting what he would consider to be lefties. She writes the following:

"In St John's, Newfoundland, the capital of Canada's poorest province, many of the bars lining George Street do a standing-room-only business, even on Sunday.

"The attractions are manifest, even if bleak in the contemplation. The bars offer raucous music, dancing and companionship. There is protection from the raw wind blowing in with the fog over St John's harbour and the ultimate attraction -- an afternoon's escape from the equally raw reality of 20% unemployment and a $290-million provincial deficit that resulted in 1,000 civil servants being newly laid off.

"Mostly, though, there is hope that a loonie or two plugged into one of the ubiquitous video lottery terminals will return a jackpot. It is that hope that keeps machines everywhere blinking in four-colour neon and eating coin after coin, quietly humming a siren song that draws the poor to their promise everywhere in Canada.

"The men and women in cities across the country -- except Ontario" because this was written May 31, 1996; I don't know if you'd announced it then " -- who sit for hours with their backs to the lounge or the bar and their attention focused on rolling numbers or cards or cherries aren't the tuxedo-clad compatriots of James Bond. They are, as far as casual observance can tell, working-class patrons whose entertainment is beer, smokes and VLTs, all at the same time.

"They see only the payoff. What they don't see is how their loonies add up to a windfall for provincial governments across the country. If they do realize how they are seduced and taxed and made fools of, they must not care, because no matter where in Canada you go, bar gambling is endemic.

"What VLTs miss, the lotteries, casinos and bingo halls suck up. When Ontario joins the VLT craze next year, gambling profits (including casinos) are expected to hit $2 billion a year.

"Most of that money will be taken from people who can least afford it -- the poor and the unemployed, the under-employed and the desperate. Cries for the control of gambling is not so much a moral stance as a socioeconomic one: why are the profits from government-sanctioned gambling not put directly back into programs to benefit the people being taxed the most?"

This is Catherine Ford who is saying this. As I say, I would call her a conservative commentator.

Mrs Marland: We like it better when you read.

Mr Bradley: There are more. There are far more. Let me quote some of the other people who are, as I say, more expert than I and most members of the House on this.

"Garry Smith, who has become the gambling specialist at the University of Alberta, describes the appeal of video slot machines: `First of all, it's the speed at which you can play. You can complete a game cycle in about one-and-a-half seconds once you're adept at playing. And because of that you get the feeling that you're constantly in action.

"`That's what gamblers seek, this tingle of excitement when they're playing all the time. And they control the speed of the play, which you don't in most other forms of gambling, where it's the dealer or something else that controls the speed. Here you can play as fast as you can.'

"Professor Smith contrasts the immediacy of video slot machines with horse racing. Once a favourite of gambling addicts, horse racing and track betting are now sedate and curiously old-fashioned -- a race every half hour and a lot of dead time in between....

"Tibor Barsony of the Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling sees North America, particularly its young people, as perfectly suited -- and susceptible -- to the fast, computer-driven pace of video lottery terminals.

"The VLT is `one of the most addictive forms of gambling -- addictive because it is fast, addictive because it provides instant gratification, addictive because it is paced for the modern way of thinking of younger people, of computerized gambling instead of dealing cards or throwing dice.'

"The onward march of the slot machine in Canada has had only a few significant reversals.

"Three years ago, the Nova Scotia government, alarmed by what it had created, abruptly removed 2,500 slot machines that had been installed in such places as corner stores. Another 2,800 VLTs remain, but they are restricted to licensed premises.

"Alberta originally approved plans for 8,600 video slots, but four months ago, it capped the number of machines at 6,000 after a sharp rise in public uneasiness about the spread of video gambling and a rise in gambling addiction."

"Wayne Yorke, a Nova Scotia psychologist in the field of gambling addiction, shares [many feelings of] uneasiness. He knows from his own research that most problem gamblers started down that road in childhood. He knows also that video gambling has the strongest attraction for potential young addicts and he believes this should sound a cautionary note for those who make public policy.

"`Considering the fact that problems related to gambling activities among adolescents in Canada is in the range of 8% to 10%, it seems wrong to consider expanding gambling activities without taking into consideration who the future casualties will be.'"

Back to Garry Smith from the University of Alberta. "Garry Smith points to the experience of Alberta, where there has been a sharp increase in problem gambling. He would not legalize video slots because they are, he says, `the most dangerous form of gambling out there.'

"After the turmoil of video gambling in Nova Scotia, Wayne Yorke is equally blunt. In an article last year in the Nova Scotia Psychologist, he warned that electronic gambling may be a calamity for the next generation.

"The video lottery terminals that are being played all over the country are, he says, `an entrapment in an illusionary world of almost virtual reality wherein everything is a game and every game may be won or lost. The game and the play have a price. Are we willing to pay the price?'"

Mrs Marland: We've waited all night to hear you speak and all you do is read rhetoric.

Mr Bradley: I have many more of these. The member says "rhetoric." She wouldn't be able to define rhetoric. What I'm talking about here are various opinions offered by people who have done studies, something this government doesn't want to see. I'm convinced that if this government had looked at the studies and assessed them carefully and looked at them objectively, this government would not now be embarking upon video lottery terminals.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): What happens to freedom of choice?

Mr Bradley: The member from Scarborough interjects. If she were sitting somewhere else in the House she of course would be agreeing with this statement that I'm making now. But you have to defend the government policy. I understand you have to defend the government policy and that's your business. You're a member of the cabinet and you cannot be diverse in your opinion from the cabinet publicly. I understand that. I respect that is part of our cabinet system. I respect the fact that there is cabinet solidarity and secrecy but I don't agree with the member and her interjections.

We have a situation in Ontario where we have the Premier of this province and the finance minister of this province, both sworn opponents of video lottery terminals in years gone by -- and in fact of casino gambling -- we have both of them now responsible for introducing this into Ontario. We have a situation where those who have espoused family values in the past have warned us of the dangers of gambling and other, what they would call immoral, activities, are now silent in the government benches because they either want into the cabinet or they're afraid to offend somebody. I invite those people to step forward tonight, to put into action what appears in those pamphlets, to be consistent with their policies that they have espoused over the years because if they were, I would respect them, and I suspect so would their fellow members of the House. The people in the Premier's office do not respect dissent so they would not want that but others might well respect that.

What you're introducing in Ontario is an escalation of gambling. We've gone from something that was relatively benign in the beginning and we keep escalating, to casinos -- as the members have appropriately pointed out on the other side -- the NDP, who may or may not speak against this bill, introduced casinos in this province. I was opposed to that but I've accepted that they're there. I've accepted that Premier Harris has said in Niagara Falls, "There shall be a casino." I wish there were not, but there is. And that is the way it is. There's one going to open in the Speaker's riding of Simcoe East and that is going to happen, and I accept that as a decision. I again wish it were not so, but it is there.


But you have an opportunity now to resist the absolute worst form of gambling, the most addictive, the most seductive form of gambling in this province.

Hon Ms Mushinski: How can you be against economic development?

Mr Bradley: While you yap over there, while you sit in your seat and yap, there are going to be thousands of people in this province who are going to go broke because of what your government's doing. Why don't you think for a change instead of just yapping over there? Why don't you think of what you're doing to people in this province? Because you're going to destroy their lives. That's what you're going to do, bringing these into every bar and tavern. What do you think's going to happen? Who do you think's going to be playing these? Not your rich friends. They're going to be poor people. They're going to be desperate people. They're going to be vulnerable people. That's who's going to play these. And that'll be on your conscience when you bring that into this province. And don't you forget that's what you've done. All of you people who are concerned, all of you people on the government benches who are so moralistic when it comes to certain issues had better check your own morals on this.

I want to hear from those who are in church on Sunday talking about their moral values, who today in this House don't have the guts to stand up against the most insidious, seductive form of gambling that this province has ever introduced. If you had any guts, you'd get up and stop it. But you won't. You allow the advisers to the Premier who need all these revenues because they're giving their tax break to the rich to get away with this, and you shouldn't. You should resist this. Every one of you on the government benches should resist what's happening, but you don't. You just sit there and accept it. You just parrot what the Premier's advisers tell the Premier and tell the rest of you. Show some gumption over there. Show some independence. Show something that we haven't seen in a long time. I would look forward to seeing that. I would respect those people who are prepared to do that. But when I hear you sit over there and yap from the sidelines about such an important issue as this --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Etobicoke-Humber.

Mr Bradley: You don't have the guts to stand up against it. If you had that you would be fighting against this, because that's exactly what's going to happen in this province. You know better. That's the problem. You people know better than to introduce this in this province.

Once you've got it, it's hard to take it away. You can't close the casinos now. You can't take away lotteries now. You can't take away offtrack betting. Once you've got this, I'm telling you, you'll never get rid of it. That's why it's important to stop it in its tracks today while you have the chance, because if you don't you're going to leave very vulnerable people in a desperate situation in this province. I lament for those people who are in that position. I really lament for those people.

You can say you're going to get $2 billion in your gambling revenues, but I ask you in your conscience, ask you to ask yourself, at what price are you prepared to get that $2 billion, at what price to our society are you prepared to take money out of the pockets of the most desperate, the most vulnerable and the addicted people of this province?

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Flaherty: I listened with interest to the sometimes emotional speech of the member for St Catharines, and if one were to take what he has said here at face value one would think that this was extremely permissive legislation, this bill that is at second reading now.

The member fails to mention the provisions that are in the legislation, the very important control provision with respect to VLTs, and that is in subsection 3(6) of the act which is the section that provides that a licence may be suspended, and that is the licence to sell liquor, not the licence to have a VLT machine, but the licence to sell liquor, where an employee or a holder of a licence has contravened or been convicted of contravening the new section of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act dealing with persons in that area of the premises where the VLTs are located, or permitting someone under the age of 19 having any access to the gaming premises. It's a very serious control mechanism that is part of this legislation.

The member for St Catharines also fails to mention another important part of the act and that is the "salting the earth" provision, which is to protect neighbourhoods from licensee after licensee misusing licences, creating disturbances in neighbourhoods. That's going to be corrected by the act, which will provide a revocation provision for up to two years where in the public interest it has been determined that a particular premise has been misused time after time by licensees. These two important control mechanisms, one with respect to licensed premises, the other with respect to VLTs, but both arising out of the circumstances of this legislation, were not mentioned by my friend in his speech.

Mr Colle: I'd like to commend the member for St Catharines for his comments because, as we all know, they were really heartfelt. He does believe that these video lottery terminals are going to be harmful to a lot of vulnerable people. Members on the other side don't want to accept that, but he truly believes that and feels strongly that he should warn you on the other side that this is what you're embarking on.

This is the most widespread introduction of gambling of any kind we'll see in this province. You're almost doubling the number of gambling opportunities. It's not just casinos; these are neighbourhood gambling machines that are insidious. They are addictive. Everywhere they've been installed, they've been proven to be addictive. Who are the ones who will be addicted? The member for St Catharines has told you, and it's clear from all the research: It's the poor, the weak, the unemployed, the ones who are addicted to gambling. They will become victimized by this very simple tax grab. It's a money grab by this government. It takes money out of the weakest and the poorest and most vulnerable and puts it into the government coffers to pay for an ill-advised tax cut that benefits those who are most able to meet the needs of society. The vulnerable will definitely be attacked by these video lottery terminals.

It's not only going to be the players. The thing that is most horrendous is that the innocent women and children and other people who aren't playing are going to be victimized by the machines because that player will use up grocery money and rent money. That's who is going to be hurt. People who are not even playing the machines will also be hurt by the use of these insidious machines.

Mrs Marland: It is interesting to listen to members of the Liberal Party, the official opposition, because they were the party, when they were the government, that expanded lotteries in this province. You can't change your position on this kind of issue. If we are going to stand in this place and be morally, passionately opposed to gambling, I respectfully suggest it should be to all forms. You can't pick and choose and say, "This kind is worse than this," and, "This is more addictive than that."

You only have to see people lining up for lottery tickets at any of the malls and the corner convenience stores. You're absolutely right; when lotteries were expanded by the Liberal government, we knew, through all the recorded statistics, that it is the people who can least afford them who buy the most lottery tickets. What we're talking about in this legislation is just an extension of what was started by the Liberal government between 1985 and 1990.

The difference, however, is that we recognize the addiction factor and we are allocating funds to help people with addiction. But whether they gamble legally or illegally, we are not going to be able to stop people gambling in this province. A lottery ticket itself is a gamble, and there are millions of dollars spent advertising and promoting the sale of lottery tickets. It was the Liberal government, as a matter of fact, that didn't even spend the money from the lottery corporation --

The Speaker: The member's time has expired.


Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I don't have as much compassion on the issue as the member for St Catharines with respect to gambling. I presume gambling to be a different form of tax really; it's a tax that you can opt into or opt out of. It does astound me, though, having visited the Windsor casino and just having walked through the halls of the Windsor casino seeing the people gamble -- it's probably not a fair comparison, because you can't judge just by nature, but it seems to me that there are some problems with gambling, and the problems stem from the fact that it does seem, from the studies I've read, to cause the people who can least afford it to gamble.

We in this party had a position in opposition which was very vehemently opposed to the Windsor casino. When I see the member for St Catharines rising on his feet and making a rather passionate plea for us to withdraw this particular approach, it certainly reminds me of the past we all bring here.

I'm going to be curious to see what the committee hearings say, because on this one I really want to hear from the people of the province of Ontario. I think the good people of Etobicoke, if given the opportunity to vote, would probably vote against them. That's my gut feeling.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Give them a chance.

Mr Stockwell: Having said that, I would say to the member across from North York, who supported casino gambling at the CNE, it's something we have to ultimately hear through our committee process. What the people tell us at committee should go into how we frame this bill, because I think gambling and Sunday shopping and issues like that really cross the political boundaries and enter into the realm of what our societies want. I'm going to be very interested to hear what the people of this province have to say, because ultimately I answer, on moral issues such as these, to the constituents of Etobicoke, and that's who I'd like to hear from.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines has up to two minutes.

Mr Bradley: I want to thank all members for their contribution. I thought the member for Durham Centre made a valid point when he said that the legislation also contains some protection against those who run bad neighbourhood bars, for instance. My contention would be that this is very supportive; I just don't believe it should be in this particular bill. I think a separate bill would deal with that nicely, and I would be very supportive of what the member has said.

As for the sanction on losing the liquor licence, the problem is that even if you wanted to, even with the best of intentions, which I'm sure the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has, it's going to be very difficult to police young people and intoxicated people from dealing with these machines. It's just a very difficult thing to do.

To the member for Mississauga South, you can look at various forms of gambling. I'm not a great fan of any of them, I must say, but I think it's a matter of escalation. This is a considerable escalation, and this is allowing far more opportunities, and this is the most insidious form. That would be my contention with this form of gambling, why I'm so strongly opposed to it.

The member for Oakwood detected that my main concern with this legislation is with video lottery terminals.

I thought the member for Etobicoke West made an excellent point, as he so often does in this House. First of all, the committee hearings -- he's quite correct -- are going to be useful. This is one bill where I think the committee hearings are going to be useful, and I hope the government genuinely listens to them, because you'll have proponents and opponents.

I also agree with him that in many areas people would vote against if they could vote on these. I commended Oshawa in this House the other day. They turned down casino gambling. It's very attractive to people. Municipal people always seem to really like casino gambling. I stood in this House and commended Oshawa for taking that step, because it's not an easy step to take. But I, like the member for Etobicoke West, really hope that the government will listen to the representations made. Maybe we will all learn more about this form of gambling and come to different conclusions.

The Speaker: Further debate? The member for Oakwood.

Mr Colle: What we're really getting into is what you would maybe call the digital gambling economy. In the Caribbean now they're setting up a form of digital gambling through the Internet. What you can do is lie in bed or on your couch at home in your pajamas, hook up to the Internet and gamble. Probably next year or the year after we'll see this government also introduce that. The way that will work is that gamblers can set up a credit card account directly with the Internet casinos. They can work through one of the money transfer agencies already on the Internet. Eventually, wagers could be taken directly from a gambler's bank account through a home debit card machine. Personal security codes like those used with automated teller cards would prevent the account from being abused. That's what we're coming to; there are going to be all kinds of high-tech solutions to how the government can get more gambling revenues. Really this is what this is all about.

As the member for St Catharines has said, the difficulty with this form of gambling is that it's not normal-type gambling; it's part of this new video attraction. If you talk to a lot of parents, you'll see they can't get their children away from video games. Whether they be at home or at the corner store, they're glued to these video games. Those same young people are going to grow up and they're going to be addicted to VLTs. VLTs are quite unique and different because they have a highly addictive quality to them. I don't know what the mechanism is that does this but it does have that magnetic, addictive quality to it above and beyond almost any other form of gambling.

I've talked to a number of people about this and they've said, amazingly enough, that the people who get most addicted to VLTs are the stupid gamblers, the amateurs, the ones who couldn't win at any kind of gambling that takes skill. They would be the ones using the VLTs rather than people who actually know something about gambling. You're going to see people who are extremely vulnerable and extremely stupid stuck on these machines and losing not just hundreds, but probably thousands of dollars.

One report mentions that people who get addicted will not come for help until they lose probably $30,000. When they lose $30,000 they go for some kind of help for their addiction. For a lot of people in this economy, $30,000 is a heck of a lot of money. That's what the average person will probably lose on these machines to start with.

The other thing that concerns me about these machines is that you may have gambling in casinos and you have to make a special trip to get there and it's not in the local neighbourhoods, but these machines will proliferate in local neighbourhoods. In the area of the city where I live we already have a lot of problems with licensed establishments and unlicensed establishments like booze cans. When you add these machines, which are going to cause people to lose money rapidly, it will no doubt add to petty crime, theft and break-ins in those neighbourhoods. People will be so fixed on using these machines that they will go out and engage in more crime to try and feed this habit.

It's no different from coke addicts and drug addicts who are around a lot of neighbourhoods in poor areas of the city. When they run out of dope and don't have any money of their own -- they've spent it -- they go out and steal to buy dope. They'll do the same thing to feed the video lottery terminals. One concern I have is, how much more policing will we need as a result of having video lottery terminals? How much more enforcement will be required to ensure that there isn't an increase in break-ins and shoplifting in neighbourhoods as a result of these insidious machines on almost every corner in this province?

I think part of the legislation should read that 100 of these machines should be in the Albany Club. That is one amendment I hope we move and should be a proviso: that you put 100 in the Albany Club. We won't see these machines in Forest Hill, we won't see them on the Kingsway, we won't see them in Rosedale, but we'll see them in the poor, more vulnerable neighbourhoods and that's where people will be hurt the most. That's where we'll see slot machines.

We know there's a growing number of bankruptcies in this province. These machines will no doubt add to that because people right now are strapped in terms of their personal household debt, the private loans they have outstanding. This will increase the number of personal bankruptcies; it will increase the hardship in families that right now can't meet their payments. If you happen to be so unlucky as to have a person addicted to gambling in your household, you can imagine the damage these machines will do to that person and the damage those machines and that addiction will do to the household.


Just imagine the picture. It's almost a three-for-one deal. The government will put these machines in so you can do three things for the price of one: You can smoke, and the government collects taxes on the cigarettes; you can drink, and the government can collect taxes on the drinks; and then you've got the VLT, so there's smoking, gambling and drinking at the corner restaurant or bar. That's what the picture is going to be all over this province: smoking, gambling and drinking to feed government coffers, and they're certainly detrimental to many households.

We have to remember that these machines are nothing more than a cheap money grab, a cheap tax grab, that's all they are: an attempt by the government of Ontario to pay for its tax cut. No doubt there'll be hundreds of millions of dollars raised as a result of this, but these dollars will come from whom? The unemployed, the poor, the vulnerable and the weak. This government is going to grab probably $1 billion a year from these people to feed the tax cut hunger. It's another tax on the poor and the most vulnerable.

I think the people of Ontario should be very concerned about this bill and why it should be opposed. It's not about morality, it's not about one's religious beliefs; it's about watching out for those in society who are most vulnerable to this type of insidious tax grab through a machine. It's a precursor to a lot more electronic tax-grabbing that we're going to see, and I think it doesn't help anybody but the government in terms of paying for its tax cut and attacks and punishes the weakest among us.

It says in the Edmonton Journal on June 9: "A 68-year-old addict had `liquidated his automobile, and all his furniture. He was down to his chesterfield. He called me before Christmas, really upset.'" "A man three months behind in his rent, being threatened with eviction, who'd gambled away his pension cheque, and was now going to the food bank." These are the types of people who will be hurt.

Another article from the Calgary Herald says: "I've seen people blow everything in the three machines we have here. They are here when we open in the morning and when we close at night. I've seen people blow their rent, everything. It is addicting."

Right across this country it's very clear that these machines are an attack on those who are weak and vulnerable, an attack on people who can't defend themselves against these addictions. We have to ask this government whether it realizes the impact on vulnerable people, the impact on neighbourhoods: As you put slot machines in corner restaurants and bars, what is going to happen to increases in crime, shoplifting and theft in every neighbourhood in this province because people will be so desperate as a result of this addiction? Stop, think and ask the people in Ontario whether they want slot machines in their corner restaurants and bars.

The Speaker: Time for questions and comments. Further debate? The member for Yorkview.

Mr Sergio: I'm not particularly delighted to speak on this item at this hour, not because of the hour as much as I have problems in finding something positive with respect to this legislation.

But before the hour runs out I would like to pass my congratulations on to the member for Ottawa East, who I believe was celebrating his 49th birthday today. I hope he's celebrating somewhere, perhaps at home; I wanted to do that before the day was over.

On the so-called VLTs or video lottery terminals --

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Slot machines.

Mr Sergio: I would really call them slot machines, or "slaughter machines" I think would be an appropriate term -- I have to agree with the member from, I believe it is, the Rainy River area. He said the title of the bill is quite misleading. I wonder honestly, and I would ask the members on the government side as well, if the members, instead of saying what it says, were to say that we are planning to introduce slot machines at every licensed place in Ontario and eventually in every variety store, flower shop, coffee shop -- they will come -- I wonder what the people of Ontario would say.

We are not really presenting it the way it is to the people of Ontario, because if we were to tell the people of Ontario what we are planning to do with the passing of this legislation, I am sure we would see quite a different atmosphere and an answer from the people out there. I think the people would rise in concern as to the effect this would be doing to their immediate neighbourhoods.

If we are saying that this would help charitable organizations, non-profit organizations, this is what one of the organizations says. It's from the charitable gaming industry. They call it call it "Ravage or Reward?" and it says: "There is a staggering lack of information available to guide the examination of VLTs. Considering that VLTs could have a massive impact to the province, we suggest these are hardly the circumstances in which our government should make such an important decision." It goes on to say that this is not the appropriate time, without proper consultation, to move ahead with the installation of some 20,000 or 30,000 VLTs in Ontario.

There is a letter here from one of those concerned organizations which do support a variety of needy people in our province. This is a copy of the letter sent to the Premier from the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, and they say, "If you license these particular machines, this would virtually put our organization out of business." The letter ends by saying: "I urge you, Mr Premier, to please not put groups such as mine out of business. We are a valuable asset to your province and local communities. Groups such as ourselves, particularly in these difficult times, are helping to pick up the shortfall created by the funding cutbacks. We agree with you that it is necessary to get the province back on its feet. However, if VLTs are installed, we will no longer be able to help achieve our and your objective."

My question is very simple: Why this particular legislation? Certainly this was not one of the promises that the Premier was spouting during the election of last year.

Mr Michael Brown: Exactly the opposite.

Mr Sergio: It is indeed exactly the opposite. It is one of those things that he was not committed to, that he didn't have to do. He did not promise it. It was not part of the Common Sense Revolution. Therefore, the Premier and the minister who is responsible for the introduction of this legislation have absolutely no good reason to introduce this type of gambling in Ontario at this particular time.


In May 1995, these are the words of the Premier during the heat of a campaign, in the hope that perhaps whatever he was saying would win him some votes, and it's most unfortunate that indeed what he said, he won an election. The problem is what's happening after the election.

Just to say that in May 1995, in the words of the Premier: "I don't want the money. Part of the problem is the Ontario government has too much money. They want too much money. They borrow too much money. They spend too much money." That was on May 3, 1995. On May 16, 1995, this is what he said: "A Harris government will not move on VLTs until all sectors have been consulted, all impacts are assessed and an agreement is reached on the distribution of revenues." This was the now-Premier prior to the election. That was on May 16, 1995.

As late as May 7 this year, in the presentation of their budget, this is what they proposed: "...the Ontario Lottery Corp will develop a plan to introduce a limited number" -- some 20,000 or 30,000 -- "of video lottery terminals" in Ontario.

What has changed? Why do they wish to introduce another form of gambling, more destructive, more addictive than going to a particular casino? You've got to either fly, you've got to jump in your car or you've got to take the GO train and make perhaps an evening or a day or a weekend and go to a particular casino. But what we are seeing now is that the government, the Premier, wants to introduce mini-casinos to every corner store in our province, in our cities. So why now? Why now does the Premier want to introduce this type of gambling?

As the Premier said, we have had no consultation, and he did say that he would give us full consultation. He did say that every sector would be consulted, but we have had no consultation. He said that we would have an impact assessment, and we don't have an impact assessment. What is the reason? What is the reason the Premier is pushing so hard to introduce mini-lotteries all over the place, at every corner store in our province? Is it because there is a demand?

We have heard from some of the members, especially from the member for Mississauga South, that if he were to put the question to his constituents, they probably would say no.

Mr Colle: Etobicoke West.

Mr Sergio: Etobicoke West. Thank you.

It was the Premier himself who said: "I'm allergic to casinos and I'm not so sure that I want to keep even the one in Windsor. Therefore, I think before we do approve any other casino, we should have a referendum. We should go to the people. We should consult the people." What has happened? It's only a short year. Therefore there is absolutely no reason, because the people of Ontario did not have a chance. They didn't have the possibility of expressing themselves on this particular new gambling that we are proposing to bring in their own immediate communities. So there is no demand.

Is it because there is something good for the people of Ontario that the government wants to push this particular legislation so fast at this particular time? The answer is absolutely no. There is no benefit to the people of Ontario. There is no profit for the people of Ontario. There are absolutely no positive things that the Premier could bring to a particular neighbourhood, to a particular community, with the introduction of these so-called VLTs or slot machines.

Could it be that this would create jobs perhaps in Ontario, the much-touted 725,000 jobs? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, what we are getting from all sides is that they will eliminate jobs. They will not create jobs.


Mr Sergio: I hear somebody saying on the other side, "True," they will eliminate jobs. I'm quite pleased to see that they agree with that.

So if they don't create jobs, if they don't bring any positive solutions to any particular community, could it be then that the introduction of slot machines, or VLTs as they are called, would help reduce crime in our society, in our communities, in our province? Absolutely not. I think we would see crime jump sky-high.

Going back for a second, if the Premier said, "We will give you consultation, we will have an assessment impact," I think he owes it to the people of Ontario to have exactly that, to have the consultation, to have the views of the people of Ontario, to have an assessment done as to the impact that these machines will have on the social fabric of the people of Ontario.

I would think that if the Premier were to go to the people and he would get one idea one way or another, I think he could be convinced to say, "Yes, it is something good that we should go ahead with or something that we should not consider." I think he owes that to the people of Ontario.

Something very important: When it comes to passing the buck to another level of government, it's very easy to say: "This is what we're going to do and you're going to do it; you're going to streamline your budget; you're going to be making cuts. It's up to you where you're going to do it." I don't think that even the local municipalities have been notified of this particular legislation and I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that if we were to propose a couple of rounds of negotiations throughout Ontario, or even within Metro, with the local Metro municipalities, you would get a resounding no with respect to the installation of VLTs or slot machines anywhere in Metro, in the GTA, in the province of Ontario. I think that municipalities should have the opportunity to say, "Yes, we want them," or "No, we don't want them in our municipalities."

I think the least that the government should do is give the opportunity to the local municipality to say, "Yes, if you want them, you can have them. If you don't want them, you don't have to have them." It's very easy to pass the buck to a lower level of government when they don't have the power to say, "If we don't want them, we aren't going to get it," because it's practically being imposed.

Interjection: Forced.

Mr Sergio: It's forced upon the local municipalities. But really, I would urge the members on the government side to consider the effect that this will have in their own local municipalities.

Mr Stockwell: Come on, Mario. Gambling at the CNE, you were fully in favour of that.

Mr Sergio: Let me answer the member for Etobicoke West. I do enjoy myself going once in a while and spending a couple of hours at one of the casinos. So I have no problem. As a member coming from a local council, I did support casinos, but what you're proposing here, what the government is proposing here, is totally different.

Why don't you tell the people the way it is, my friend across the floor? Why don't you tell the people the way it is, that this is another form of gambling that you're willing to introduce in every corner store, where you're going to have the young, little 14-year-old going to buy a jug of milk and he's being tempted to put the money in one of these machines? Why don't you tell the truth, the member for Etobicoke West? I wonder what he's going to tell his constituents, the single parents, when they have no other alternative but to send --

Mr Stockwell: It's 12 o'clock; take him out of his misery.

Mr Sergio: Mr Speaker, I have 15 minutes.

The Speaker: It being almost 12 of the clock, this House stands --

Mr Sergio: Can I continue tomorrow, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: Yes. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 2400.


No. Page Column Line(s) Should read:

93A3846 2 46 behalf of the member for Don Mills, to the Parliament of Ontario

No. Page Column A corrected version of a petition follows:


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition signed by over 700 people within the Metro area and endorsed by Anna-Marie Goralczyk, who is here today in the gallery to hear me read this petition. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it asks people to sign the petition on child abuse and the CAS. It says:

"Family courts should hear applications of `Child in Need of Protection from the CAS.' CASs should report to police all abuses in foster care. The public should be informed to report child abuse to the police, who would be assisted by CAS in appropriate situations. CASs should be safe homes, answerable to the police and not investigating crime, avoiding abuse handling internally.

"Parents shouldn't be denied equal evaluation of evidence or forced to communicate with CAS in ways that remove that equality, in case the CAS's mandate and protocols shift from the best interests of the child to themselves due to abuses in care.

"The police should react when CASs obstruct justice, tamper with evidence, use coercion and be in control of the registrar of abuse. A safe home should be organized for children who've been abused in care, access and therapy prohibited to CAS. When short of police, enlargements should be made to youth bureaus instead of handing the investigations to CASs, to avoid CASs investigating themselves.

"Official guardians (government child lawyers) should present evidence from the child only and not rely on submissions of the CAS. Children should be free to choose an attorney, and not forced counsel by official guardians against his/her will.

"It should be illegal for CAS to threaten permanent separation because a parent doesn't want to sign for extended care when a period of two years results in the parent losing custody, regardless of the facts.... A group able to act should oversee that CASs don't put parents in humanly/legally impossible positions.

"CASs shouldn't force instruction on child therapists. Family court judges shouldn't rely on therapy reports as mini-judgements and should consider evidence of persons other than the CAS network.

"The police should recognize webs of victims in organizations that may tend to protect their own. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has favoured freedom of the press. General media and publication of names of dangerous persons should be practised, including CAS employees.

"CASs should report statistics of abuse in foster care and percentages of charges/convictions.

"The CAS should give clear, justifiable reasons in writing to parents for enforcing permanent family separation, silence/inaction not being an option.

"CASs should assist families who suffer aftermath of sexual abuse, regardless if charges are laid."

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.